Cornerback Geoffrey Pope and guard Stacy Andrews were both deeply saddened today by the news that Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry had died this morning after falling from the back of a pickup truck Wednesday that reportedly was being driven by his fiance Loleini Tonga.
Pope and Andrews had both been teammates with Henry in Cincinnati. Pope, in fact, dressed in the locker next to Henry at the start of this season.
"It's just kind of hard to believe," Pope said. "Contrary to what everybody believed, he had a good heart. Everybody wants to judge people, but everybody gets into trouble in your life. He genuinely made a conscious effort, not only for himself, but also for his kids, to turn his life around. Cincinnati stuck with him and he was really doing that."
Henry was arrested five times on various charges during his career and suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell for eight games in 2007, but both Pope and Andrews said they felt as though he was a changed man.
"I was somebody who interacted with him every day," Pope said. "His locker was next to mine for the year and a half or two years I was in Cincinnati. I know he loved (Tonga). She was always with him whenever we went out or I met him somewhere. I know he cared for her and you couldn't go by his locker without seeing pictures of him, her and his kids. He was really family oriented. This is just tragic."
Andrews said he had also become friends with Henry, especially during his final season with the Bengals.
"I know he was a changed man, so this hurt me," Andrews said. "I know there were some negative things in his past, but he did an amazing turnaround in the last year and a half. Once the team signed him back, you could see it in his face that he was glad to be back and ready to restart his career and do the right things for his family and the team."
Andrews said he last talked to Henry right after he signed as a free agent with the Eagles.
"Me and Chris that last year would go shopping together for clothes and we'd talk and he was a cool guy," Andrews said. "You could tell he was a changed man. You could see it in his eyes. The day before I came here in March, I saw him driving by and we stopped and talked for a hot second. He congratulated me for moving on and told him to keep his head up and do the right thing."