When Erin Henderson was arrested on DUI charges on January 1, it was his second arrest on the same charges in six weeks and it led to the linebacker’s release from the Vikings.
It also led him to try to get his life back in order. In a statement given to TMZ, Henderson wrote that he “cannot be more grateful” for the second arrest because it forced him to realize that he was on a path that was causing damage to his family, his career and himself. He was released from jail on January 2 and went directly into rehab at Hazelden, writing that he knew he needed to do something to better his future and that he knew he couldn’t do it alone.
Henderson says he never imagined “the worst experience in my life would turn out to be the best things that ever happen to me,” but that’s how he feels about the entire episode. In an interview with Tom Pelissero of USA Today, Henderson explained just how much his drinking was affecting his ability to do his job.
“There would be times where I would come to practice hung over,” Henderson said. “Never just fresh off of drinking coming into practice. But I might have had a rough night the night before, and I’d be in front of the huddle calling plays. And everybody would know that I had been out drinking the night before. Of course, that affects the ability to go out there and perform and be the best that you can be. But I’d been doing it for so long and it’s something that I had gotten used to.”
Henderson told Pelissero that he’s interested in seeing how he can play now that he’s sober and spoke with certainty about continuing his career. In his statement, though, Henderson said that his sobriety takes precedence at the moment.
“Football is my god given talent, and that is something that will thrive through triumph. However the most important thing for me right now is maintaining my sobriety,” Henderson wrote. “If I continue down the path I have started on I know I will leave a legacy off the field that my family and I can be proud of for years to come.”
Whatever happens with his playing career, it’s encouraging to see Henderson addressing a problem that was threatening a lot more than that before he checked into rehab.