By Greg Arias
Daniel Webster defined the word voluntary as “proceeding from the will or from one’s own choice or consent,” However, that definition was formed without consulting the NFL.
The Tennessee Titans reported to St. Thomas Sports Park on Monday for the first day of “voluntary workouts” in preparation for the upcoming NFL season. Only two players on the current roster failed to show up for day one, but only one of those two players is drawing attention.
Derrick Henry, the Titans second round draft pick just a season ago, was a no-show on Monday and his teammates, the media and fans immediately took notice.
Henry was not required to attend Monday’s start, but in the NFL where team is the key word, his absence as a former Heisman Trophy winner and key backup was a noticeable absence. It might not mean much to the outside world, but it means something inside the locker room for a team that believes it is on the rise and appears to be entering a window of playoff- and perhaps championship contention in the near future, if things break right for them- contention.
In fairness to Henry, there is no doubt that he is putting in the time and work in the weight room. Henry is a workout warrior and he consistently posts videos on his social media sights of his workouts. Even head coach Mike Mularkey admitted that he was not worried about the physical condition his young running back would be in when he does arrive in Nashville.
So what’s all the fuss about then?
These new look Titans under Mularkey and general manager Jon Robinson want players who are “team first” guys and the perception now becomes that Henry is not being “team first” because of his not reporting, even though it is “voluntary.”
As if that wasn’t enough, it was reported on social media on Tuesday morning that Henry had blocked a member of the Nashville media from his Twitter account. Henry has not commented as to the reason for the blockage, but the easiest assumption is that it was because of a story written on Monday by the blocked member.
Now not only is Henry not being “team first,” but he has “thin skin,” according to fans and likely some media members because of this move.
Admittedly, it is not the best look and not the distraction that the Titans wanted on day one of the workouts. But it is what it is, and it’s really not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things in the Titans universe.
This is nothing that Henry can’t overcome with his teammates inside the locker room, and that is the only place where any of this really matters.
Could there be a legitimate reason for his absence?
Henry is in fact enrolled and taking classes toward completion of his degree _ remember he left school early for the NFL Draft _ at The University of Alabama, and those classes run through the first week of May.
I doubt anyone would find fault with this reasoning. However, perhaps Henry should have taken a minute to have called his head coach and prevented all this hubbub from ever beginning.
Fans and media are fickle types, and some media will take anything they can to spin a story to sell their product or create clicks to their sites. It doesn’t make us bad people, it’s just the nature of the business we are in. Henry will be the source of reports and articles like this one for the next few days and will have to withstand the questions about his “no-show” when he does arrive. He’ll likely also be asked about the courses he took and the grades he made in said classes.
One thing is certain however, all will be forgiven and forgotten the first time Henry crosses the goal line in 2017, and if the Titans are winning games and Henry is contributing.
After all, winning is the only thing that really matters in the NFL.