It was supposed to be Manti Te’o. Then it was supposed to be Brian Urlacher.
But at the moment, the Vikings middle linebacker appears to be Erin Henderson, and he’s tired of hearing about everyone else.
“Coach told me all the time, ‘Play angry. You’re too nice sometimes. Play angry,'” Henderson told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. “I haven’t been more pissed in — I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think I’ve ever been this pissed in my entire life, to just hear people talk about stuff that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
“I guess it’s getting to a point now where it’s like, ‘Dang, I just want a little bit of respect.’ I’m not asking you to call me the greatest linebacker to ever play the game yet. Maybe one day we might get to that point, but show me a little bit of respect for what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished in this league.”
In fairness to Henderson, he’s an absolutely serviceable NFL linebacker. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But he’s not the kind of guy teams build around, which is why the Vikings have been, and continue to be, linked to other names to fill the middle linebacker job.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier would only say that Henderson was “in the conversation” with a bunch of guys for the job at the moment, and Urlacher got the old “at this point” denial.
“So, I’m used to it. Just like now I’ve got to hear they might want to bring in Urlacher,” Henderson said. “Cool. Bring him in. And if he’s better than me, if he can outplay me at that position, then let him play — but just make sure it’s a competition, you know what I mean? Make sure I’ve got a fair shot at it and I get my fair shake that I deserve at the position. That’s all.”
Henderson has hung around for five years after being undrafted, so the chip on the shoulder is well-earned. But if he thinks Urlacher’s coming in to compete, if he ever shows up, he’s clearly mistaken.