Henson Has A Moment

One of the two notable moments in Drew Henson's career with the Cowboys has arrived. The first moment was in 2003, when he was acquired to be The Next Troy Aikman.

The second and final moment occured Wednesday afternoon, when Dallas' attempts to get something for the QB in trade flopped, causing the team to decide to release him.

'Henson will not be on our roster,'' coach Bill Parcells had announced earlier in the day. "That's all you guys need to know.''

Actually, there is a little more to the story. For instance:

* The reason Parcells wouldn't reveal anything else about Henson's status is that there were, as he put it, some "moving parts'' involved. That's Parcellsese for "trade talks'' and the like. Parcells' remarks came at 11:30. Within no more than 150 minutes later, I was told the decision had been made. Henson -- deemed not valuable enough by the rest of the NFL to give up even a bag of magic beans in exchange -- would be waived.

Pending some paperwork with Drew and barring some last-second decision by a team to part with a half-bag of magic beans, apparently, none of the parts "moved'' much at all.

* This is hardly a disaster, though the Cowboys had given up a third-round pick to Houston (and a seven-year contract and a $3.1 million guaranteed signing bonus) to acquire the baseball-playing quarterback. Rather, it constitutes an effort by owner Jerry Jones to roll moderately-sized dice while trying to strike it rich at the most important position in sports. Dear Jerry: Pay no attention to the naysayers who laugh from Henson to Hutch to Ryan Leaf, and keep on swinging.

* Put some of the blame squarely on Henson's shoulders, of course. And maybe on his flip-flopping between the two sports. (Critics still poke at Deion Sanders as a two-sport star, but in hindsight, weren't his accomplishments as a Hall-of-Fame footballer and a legit major-leaguer rather astounding?) But in truth, the eventual failure in Dallas of Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson and Drew Henson -- three guys considered by the rest of the NFL as first-day-worthy draft talent -- goes on the Cowboys coaching staff as well.

Oh, and if anyone is counting: Since Aikman got knocked all the way up to the broadcast booth by LaVar Arrington on December 10, 2000, Dallas has allowed to sit on the Meredith/Staubach/Aikman throne a motley crew of pretenders: Tony Banks, Randall Cunningham, Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Tony Romo, Drew Henson. ... and during that time, the Cowboys have essentially lost three of every five games they've played.

Said Jerry a year ago: "(Henson's) got quick feet, a strong arm and he's as smart as a whip. This is not a time to give up. It's a time to stick with him. Great quarterbacks don't always just land in your lap. Sometimes you have to develop them."

The last time the Cowboys out-and-out developed a QB?

Jason Garrett would be a stretch. Tony Romo would be a wish.

Roger Staubach, maybe?

* Henson's failure here is maddening because he truly is blessed athletically. Quick feet, a strong arm, smart as a whip, and all that. A year ago, he was disappointed to be the No. 3 guy. Now, suddenly, he's No. 4 and out the door -- with the Cowboys' apparent belief that somebody named Matt Baker is superior.

Maddening because there was a time when he outplayed Tom Brady to the Michigan bench. Maddening because Dallas scout Jim Garrett -- father of Jason -- predicted that "Henson will take a team to the Super Bowl. He is a clone of Troy Aikman.'' Maddening because he was so a part of the family that when he had his private workout at Valley Ranch, Troy himself was there to watch.

* You gotta take the good with the bad. So before you bemoan the Dallas scouting department as a failed bit, give the Parcells Era its due for Witten, Newman, James, Crayton, Ware, Spears, Barber, Thompson, Canty, Ratliff, Petitti and more. Missing on a QB makes a louder noise, but it still constitutes just one miss.

* Drew is departing while complaining, muttering something about not "getting a fair shot.'' Now, I am saying this as a guy that truly believed that Henson would grow into the job. I'm saying this as a guy who endorses the pursuit of him by the Chiefs or the Vikings or the Browns or anyone else, because the 6-4, 235-pound kid with a 90-MPH fastball is always going to get one more chance to pitch. And I'm saying this with a nod toward the fact that circumstances, to a degree, did conspire against Henson.

However, there is nothing "unfair'' about a three-year wait and a $3 mil allowance during that wait.

* Henson has, unfortunately, spent this entire century mired in "not-readiness.'' What did his football boss Parcells say about him last year? "He's not ready."

What did his baseball boss Joe Torre say about him in 2001? "At this time he's not in our immediate plans. He's still a long ways away." Yankees manager Torre's review of the "can't-miss" third baseman came after Drew struck out 48 times in 139 at-bats and commit seven errors in 35 games for the AAA Columbus Clippers. And with all due respect to Henson, if iconic football talent evaluator Parcells says you can't play and iconic baseball talent evaluator Torre says you can't play. ...

Son, you can't play.

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