Reluctant Star

"I'd say being a quarterback with the Cowboys is a bigger deal than playing with the Yankees," Henson said during an interview with "As far as mass media, I guess there's no place like New York, but being a quarterback with the Cowboys is unique."

Was there ever really a chance that Drew Henson would end up anywhere other than in Dallas? Drafted last year by the Houston Texans, Henson was traded two months ago to Dallas. Henson didn't pull "a Manning" and demand an exit from Houston, but he was drafted last year while still playing professional baseball in a move that was made more to gain a future asset for the Texans, who already had drafted David Carr. Had the Texans not traded Henson, he could have re-entered the Draft. So with the Texans somewhat handcuffed by the need to trade the unsigned Henson … did anyone really think he'd end up in Buffalo or Cleveland?

Henson was made to play quarterback for the Cowboys. He played collegiately at Michigan, where the crowds top 100,000 at every home game. Upon his departure from college, when he was identified as one of the top football players in the country, he chose instead to sidestep the NFL in order to sign a professional baseball contract. But of course, he didn't just sign with a professional baseball team, he ended up with the New York Yankees.

So after playing at a college with one of the largest stadiums (and the largest living alumni base) in the nation, and then playing for the most visible team in baseball, would there be any NFL team more appropriate for Henson than so-called "America's Team"?

"I'd say being a quarterback with the Cowboys is a bigger deal than playing with the Yankees," Henson said. "As far as mass media, I guess there's no place like New York, but being a quarterback with the Cowboys is unique."

Henson has all the tools to be a star. He's big (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and strong. He's athletic and mobile. And he has a bazooka of a passing arm, which allows him to make every throw. But he's also extremely raw, having not played a football game since his last year at Michigan in 2000. He faces a learning curve before he's ready to take over the Dallas offense.

"I don't want a celebrity quarterback," head coach Bill Parcells said. "I don't need a celebrity quarterback. I don't like that kind of guy -- that's not the kind of guy I want."

By all indications, Henson is not that kind of guy. He's a big name, and he has the raw physical tools to excel. But since the trade to Dallas, he has been a model student of the game and a tireless worker.

"I want a guy who digs in and lifts weights with his linemen," Parcells said. "Then, when they step into the huddle, his teammates will know he's put in the work."

Henson said that getting traded when he did has been a huge advantage as he begins to absorb the Dallas offense.

"It's helped a lot," he said. "I've been watching film, going to meetings … It's tough to walk in here Thursday and have them installing the offense Friday in mini-camp. I've been here every day. I went to the quarterbacks school. It's been a good start."

Henson said that the man whose job he's ultimately trying to take, starting quarterback Quincy Carter, has been more than receptive to the arrival of his highly-touted challenger.

"He's been great," Henson said. "I've learned a lot from him already. He knows that I'm here to help the team win. He's helping me be a be a better player, and hopefully I can help him and Tony (Romo) be better players."

Carter is the team's returning starter, and there remains widespread speculation that Dallas might sign another veteran quarterback to serve as Carter's backup, thereby relegating Henson to third-string status.

"Those types of guys are very valuable, assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Sean Payton said. "Guys like Jason Garrett -- he was a great caddy for Kerry Collins when I was in New York. "We're going to try to help (Henson) make up for his layoff as quickly as possible. He's got ability. He's got good arm strength and he's very athletic. But at the same time, there's lot of wait and see."

One of the biggest expectations Henson faces is the expectations of fans who expect him to take over the quarterback position -- perhaps before he's ready. When asked about the hype and expectations, Henson sounds unfazed.

Nobody has higher expectations than I do for myself," Henson said. "I can't control what fans say. All I can do is prepare as hard as I can and get ready to play, whenever that opportunity comes. It's hard enough to get into this league and be a good quarterback without worrying what others think."

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