We miss Henderson already

During Sunday's Packer game the old saying ‘You never appreciate something until it's gone' popped into my mind.

Strangely, it wasn't a play by Brett Favre that made me think of the adage though that certainly could apply. Can you imagine Aaron Rodgers firing a perfect 17-yard out in overtime in those conditions as Favre did?

Me neither. But we all know we are going to miss Favre when he is gone.

It was earlier in the Packers' 16-13 win over the Detroit Lions that that old adage started to haunt me.

The Packers were pinned at their own 1-yard line when running back Samkon Gado was corralled in the end zone for an apparent safety. Luckily, Gado had the presence of mind to get rid of the ball. Long story short, the play – which also included a declined holding call on tackle Mark Tauscher -- was ruled an incomplete pass.

Gado was thrust into that situation because the Lions were able to seal a quickly-opened hole on the right side. Gado, who finished with a club rookie record 171 rushing yards, and the Packers had made quite a bit of hay running outside so this play – despite the fact that it started eight yards deep in the end zone – was an understandable call.

The hole closed suddenly because of a missed block. The beneficiary of that missed block was Lion linebacker Earl Holmes, who stuffed Gado in the end zone.

The player who whiffed on that block? Fullback Vonta Leach.

Would William Henderson have missed that block? The veteran fullback is in the twilight of a career and ESPN – almost by accident -- emphasized that point Sunday. At the outset of the broadcast, Henderson took ESPN on a drive through Green Bay while espousing the virtues of Favre, his teammate for 11 seasons.

In a roundabout way, that was a tribute to Henderson himself.

The North Carolina product has been there for a majority of Favre's glory years, quietly contributing to the second-greatest run in franchise history and playing a key supporting role in the legend that became and is Brett Favre.

Through the years, No. 33 hasn't reached the end zone much, has barely ran the ball and most of his tangible damage has come between the 20-yard lines. He has been the ultimate set up man.

Sunday, Henderson played that role again perfectly but in virtual anonymity. As is typical there were no rushes, two special team tackles and a handful of catches for 38 yards. Henderson's biggest reception came in overtime when Favre found him for 8-yards with the Packers facing a 3rd-and-7 from their own 38 in overtime. Six plays later, Ryan Longwell kicked a 28-yard field goal to win the game.

There is no definitive way to determine whether Henderson would have connected on the block that Leach missed. Based on the Packers' offensive resume – Favre's records and the eight 1,000-yard rushers – in Henderson's tenure, it is not a stretch to say that "Hendu" would have "pancaked" Holmes and given Gado some room to run.

‘You never appreciate something until it's gone. The Packers learned that the hard way Sunday night. Hopefully that's the last time a lesson like that is learned with Henderson on the sidelines.

Laura Veras Marran

Note: Laura Veras Marran was raised in Green Bay and is a longtime sports writer from Kenosha, Wis. E-mail her at lvmarran@aol.com.

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