Following Sunday's 30-13 thumping of the Chicago Bears, the New Orleans Saints did something they normally don't do. They brought Devery Henderson to the podium for post game interviews.
When it comes to giving great sound bites, Henderson historically hasn't exactly been Joe Horn. That's not a knock on the Opelousas native and Louisiana football hero. Hardly. Henderson is simply a guy who enjoys playing the game and really isn't someone who thrives or craves the spotlight. But this year he's captured it, whether he likes it or not.
On this occasion, even Henderson's post game comments were just as smooth, as the remarkable 79-yard touchdown he hauled in from Drew Brees. He spoke perfectly of all the frustrating losses the Saints had experienced over the years in frigid Chicago...defeats that, for all practically purposes, ended their seasons.
The 39-14 pounding the Bears laid on the Saints in NFC Championship game during the 2006 season was obviously the worst of them all. Fans feared it was not only the first, but last shot the Saints had at reaching the Super Bowl for quite some time. But the good times were just beginning. And Henderson has been a big part of all those wonderful experiences.
On the Saints Super Bowl run in 2009, he caught a spectacular flea-flicker score from Brees during the Saints 45-14 demolition of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC divisional playoffs. During the epic NFC Championship win over Minnesota, Henderson soared above defenders to snatch another TD against the Vikings.
And finally, when the Saints indeed reached the promised land, No. 19 caught everything thrown his way. The former LSU Tiger tied for the team high in catches during the 31-17 World Championship ecstasy over the Indianapolis Colts, making 7 grabs for 63 yards. The soft-spoken Henderson, a player who often dropped passes earlier in his career, seemed unfazed by the magnitude of the situation. Simply put, he came through and was a champion.
Granted, in 2010, he was much like his teammates...not quite as good as the season before. Henderson's catches dropped from 51 to 34, his yardage down considerably from 804 to 464. There was even some light talk during training camp, that his was salary was a little too much and that he could be expendable. Saints fans are quite thankful Henderson stayed put.
He's gone over 100 yards receiving in both of the team's games this year and is back to the gaudy yards-per-catch numbers Henderson is accustomed to. He's averaging 22.6 yards per reception on nine grabs and it can't be overstated how beautiful that deep bomb from Brees was on Sunday.
With top target Marques Colston out for another three weeks or so...it's certainly a big bonus to have Henderson playing at this level. And after six-plus years in the league, it's quite apparent his tremendous speed hasn't diminished one bit. Just ask the Bears who unsuccessfully dove at Henderson's ankles.
This past summer, Devery really came through for me and our troops in a huge way, agreeing to play in our "Celebrity/Sorta Celebrity Softball Game" to benefit Louisiana military. What a massive hit he was...on and off that field. After a rousing ovation in pregame introductions, Henderson blasted not one, but two towering home runs over the outfield wall. He stayed, visited, signed autographs and took pictures until everyone got their piece of the man who also hauled in LSU's historic "Blue Grass Miracle" in 2002.
Just as he grabbed his bag to leave, we visited again and I thanked him so much for coming.
"Where are you going now?" I asked.
"To Opelousas, to visit my mom." Henderson smiled.
And that's all you need to know, about Devery Henderson.
Copyright 2011 WAFB. All rights reserved.