Mike Brown's Comments:
"We were notified an hour so ago that Chris Henry died in Charlotte at 6:30 this morning. He was good at what he did as a player, and he was a teammate to our players and a friend to almost all of us in the building here. We knew him in a different way than his public persona. He was soft spoken, pleasant, comfortable to be around. We liked him. He had worked through troubles in his life and had seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom, and he was going to have the future we all wanted for him and he wanted for himself. And then this tragedy cut him down. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts, and we will miss him."
Marvin Lewis's comments:
"I think the most noticeable thing about Chris this year was watching him mature as a person, as a father to his kids, as someone who communicated on a different level and was pleasing to see. And that, for our football team, is what we feel yesterday and this morning. The guys who were here when he was drafted had watched him mature as a young man and work through adversity and come out of it, and be a beacon of hope for other people. It's a very difficult thing with his loss ... a young life, and one that won't ever get to reach its full potential. It's a shame, and our prayers are with his family, his mom, brothers and children as they deal with his loss. It's a solemn mood we have here today."
Q: It has been a tough year for the Bengals, with the passing of Mike Zimmer's wife, the tsunami in American Samoa affecting some players' families, and now the passing of Chris Henry. How do you keep the team's focus in a time like this?ML: "I think we have to show, in the true sense of the word, what a professional is when everything is going on around you. As a professional you have a job to do, and this is part of it. We have to rely on the strength of each other and collectively as a football team, and the 'professional' quality of the football team will win out and come to the top."
Q: How did you break the news to the team, and what was that moment like?ML: "I spoke with the players a couple times today, and really as I've said many times, what I say to the players is basically what I say to the players. So that's between us."
Q: Were you concerned after the injury, when he was not around as much, that he wouldn't have the team's structure to help him? Or was he beyond that?ML: "I think we were somewhat beyond that for Chris. He had been here recently to see the doctors and do the things he was supposed to do medically. But there really wasn't much he could do for a certain time (in terms of rehab). He was with their family down there, which has been a very comfortable environment and really has been a great spot for him to be. And he spent a lot of time down there once he was able to do that, so we were very comfortable with him in that environment."
Q: What kind of change had you seen in him since you last re-signed him?ML: "Last August, I had a talk with Chris before he was brought back to our football team, and then I filled Mike (Brown) in on the details of our meeting and the couple hours that we spent together. It was Chris, Loleini and the kids, actually. And there was a different man that was sitting across from me, a different person. And from that point on, we've seen pretty much a continual growth of Chris in things and a degree of responsibility, expanding his role here, learning all three positions and our three-wide receiver sets or two-wide receiver sets and both positions in the regular sets. So quite an expansion of both football, as well as off the field. I shared with Mike this story early in the season, when Chris asked me about getting the ticket to the Moeller-Elder football game so that he had enough tickets for his entire family. So things like that. To me it's a minor thing, but it talked about the level of growth that Chris had had."
Q: To Mike Brown: You stood behind Chris to give him a second chance when others wouldn't. Can you reflect on that?MB: "I don't regret it. He had troubles, and some of them were made more of than I think they actually were. But we knew him here as the person he was in fact. And yes, it was challenging at times with him, but he was someone who we liked and thought could regroup, catch himself and restart his life. And to his credit, I think he did that. And it's a terrible tragedy that just at the time he was running to daylight, if you will, his life was snuffed out."
Q: What don't we know about Chris Henry that we should?ML: "Well, I think Mike has talked a lot about that already – his soft-spokenness, his genuineness. I think everybody here – a lot of people – have spent time helping Chris develop as a person, and they all saw those sides, those traits in Chris that allowed him to overcome some of the things and kind of right his life."
Q: How do you put this behind you to play the game on Sunday, at San Diego? ML: "I think I already answered that question, so we should just kind of stick with that and go forward."
Q: What will be your lasting memory of Chris? MB: "For me, it's an odd memory. We had our Christmas party here a few years ago and he was there, and I had a chance to talk to him. Anymore I don't get around the players like I once did, but in this situation it was just the two of us talking. And my impression, the impression he left me with, was altogether different than how he's been portrayed. He was gentle, alert, well-spoken, interesting to talk to, and he won me over. When I think of him, I will think of him at that moment. I'll think of him catching the pass against Pittsburgh (in the 2006 playoffs). I'll think of him in practice sessions just out there on the field running around the way he did. I'll have a picture in my eye with Loleini and the children, the young children. What I saw was a good person at heart. Sometimes he wasn't described that way, but that's how I knew him."
ML: "I think I have a number of ones. I can remember the first ball thrown to Chris, and he caught it, and it was a deep ball in practice in rookie camp. The first thing he did was stick up his finger. I told the receiver coach at that time, 'You'd better get him.' Then, I think about just making plays, and that was the thing that always Chris did and that's what I told our guys. They were told this morning that to help deal with this, they should hang on to all the positive and the fun things they remember about Chris.
"But my most recent one is before we played the Bears (on Oct. 25 of this year). Chris had been sick that week, stricken with the flu. And so he had missed Friday and I believe Saturday, and he began to turn the corner Saturday night. They didn't allow him to the team hotel, but early Sunday morning he was feeling better so he met me here and I watched him work out on the field. They didn't really do much but stand and catch. I said, 'No, no, I need to see him run.' So he ran routes. Jordan (Palmer), I think, was throwing. Chris came over and sat with me on the photographer's stand at the end of the end zone and he said, 'Coach, I feel better than I've felt in the last month.' I said, 'You know what? You look that way, so you suit up today.' And just the grin on his face, because again, when Chris spoke and talked, you got to see the genuine person.
"And a lot of times Chris was very quiet, and he let everybody speak for him too much. And when Chris turned the corner was when he began to speak up himself, and distance himself from the people that were dragging him down, and express his real thoughts and feelings. And I thought that day, he did that. I thought the day before the Baltimore game, he came to me and he had that twinkle in his eye and he said, 'I feel the same way today.' And unfortunately, he got hurt so early in that game. Those are the things I remember about Chris."
Q: How much did Loleini help him turn around? ML: "Well, Loleini had been a very steadying force in Chris' life, since she came into his life."
Q: You talk about people making good decisions. He was a good example of someone who had not. Had he begun to figure it out? Do you still say the same thing to players about making decisions?ML: "No question. I think everybody saw that. As I just kind of finished up saying there, Chris could never figure out that some of these people were dragging him down, until he had the last scrape, when he was accused of whatever. He didn't do it, and no one stood up and said, 'It was me.'
"And then, finally when it all came out in the wash and the right person was accused, then Chris finally figured it out: 'You know what? These people are not here for my benefit because they do things, and I'm always going to be the one blamed for it or put in the center of it, and they're not willing to really own up for what they did.'
"And that was the point where his whole life, his whole career, turned around because then, it became focusing on his and his tiny little inner circle, and he was able to get his arms around that better. If you think back, a lot of Chris' troubles began with (Hurricane) Katrina, and him becoming the sole breadwinner for the entire family, and just being inundated with people from New Orleans and Louisiana. So Chris had a lot on his plate since he was here."