by Aaron Wilson
April 09, 02014
Cut by the Minnesota Vikings after a second driving under the influence arrest, unemployed linebacker Erin Henderson said he's addressed his issues with alcohol and marijuana.
Henderson said he's sober now and eager for a fresh start in the NFL.
He also acknowledged to USA Today that it affected his play.
"There would be times where I would come to practice hung over," Henderson said. "Never just fresh off of drinking coming into practice. But I might have had a rough night the night before, and I'd be in front of the huddle calling plays. And everybody would know that I had been out drinking the night before.
"Of course, that affects the ability to go out there and perform and be the best that you can be. But I'd been doing it for so long and it's something that I had gotten used to."
Henderson went to alcohol rehab and is now is doing outpatient sessions three times a week.
"I just didn't know what else to do," Henderson said. "I didn't seek the professional help I needed to help me with my mental issues. I thought my athletic gifts would take care of things."
Henderson is still in trouble with the law, though. He has nine pending charges: four DUI counts and two drug possession counts.
"I've learned that substance abuse is often a byproduct of different things," Henderson said. "For me, it was my way of numbing things and not having to worry about a lot of things. That's pretty much what I did. When I look back on it, I realize that's not living. That's not life. You're supposed to feel certain things. You're supposed to have emotions. Life is not meant to just be coasted through. But one of the things they tell us a lot in rehab is there's nothing that a drink won't make worse. ..
"That's one of the things I'm most curious about — what happens when I can remove a lot of my off-field issues and just play with a clear mind and actually enjoy the game like I used to? I like to call myself a recovering alcoholic. I understand it's an ongoing battle. It's a lifelong thing."
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun