ENGLEWOOD • Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall somberly stood at his locker and spoke about the passing of his good friend, Chris Henry.
Henry, a receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, died today after suffering injuries from falling out of a pickup truck.
“I’m crushed right now,” Marshall said. “Anytime you lose somebody close to you, it’s shocking and really painful.”
Marshall said they had talked about once a week, but he regretted not calling him recently. He said the last time they spoke was Thanksgiving, but it was brief. He meant to call Henry, who had a broken arm and was out for the season, on Monday but didn’t.
The friendship went back to their college days, when Henry was at West Virginia and Marshall was at Central Florida. The two met after a game between the teams and found they had a mutual admiration.
“I was just a sophomore, and he was making all these plays on the field and I was like ‘wow,’” Marshall said. “I went up to him after the game, and I guess he liked the way I played, too. He said ‘I’ll see you in the NFL.’ Ever since then, we had this little bond.”
The friendship lasted into their NFL days. Both wore No. 15 for their respective teams.
“I’d text him after a big game and say ‘Who made No. 15 look better today?’” Marshall said. “We’d go back and forth.”
Although Henry had gone through off-field issues, recent stories about him said he had started to turn around his life. Marshall described him as a “special person” who didn’t let a lot of people close to him but was passionate about a lot of things in life.
“It’s devastating to lose him, especially him getting on the right track and being able to turn things around,” Marshall said.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels started his press conference today by offering condolences to the Bengals. The Broncos lost two players, cornerback Darrent Williams and running back Damien Nash, in the first two months of 2007.
“One thing you hate to hear is when somebody calls you saying you lost one of your brothers,” Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. “We went through that here a couple years ago, losing two of our teammates, and that’s something I wouldn’t wish on any team.”