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Hard work keeps Mitchell Henry in the NFL

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WKU standout is back with Green Bay Packers

Mitchell Henry believes if you work hard and stay positive, things usually work out. Still, it’s been quite the rollercoaster ride over the past few months as he’s pursued his goal of playing in the NFL.

Cut twice from team rosters, Henry bounced from Green Bay to Denver and is now back in Green Bay.

“Yeah,” he says with a laugh, “it’s been pretty crazy this year.”

A football standout as a tight end at Western Kentucky University, Henry graduated in May and soon afterward headed to the Green Bay Packers training camp as an undrafted rookie. He played hard and showed promise, despite a broken finger that saw him playing with something resembling a boxing glove over one hand for several weeks.

His grit and determination to play with an injury that might have sidelined others came as no surprise to his father, who remembers something similar years ago when a much younger Mitchell broke his wrist.

“He was playing baseball with a cast on his wrist when he was 10 years old,” recalls Terry Henry. “He was out there playing with one arm and having the glove under an armpit.”

Henry seemed to bond well with the Packers.

henry catfish
Mitchell Henry, at around age 9, catching catfish with his dad, Terry. Henry earned the nicknames “The Noodler” and “Catfish” during training camp. Photo: The Mitchell Family

“One thing I found interesting about him is the nickname he got up here: ‘The Noodler,’” notes ESPN writer Rob Demovsky. “It comes from one of his favorite pastimes, noodling, which apparently involves catching catfish with his bare hands.”

The Packers are known for their community involvement and Henry enjoyed taking part in the team’s annual tradition of having players ride the bikes of local kids to training camp.

At the end of August, when the Packers made their first round of roster cuts, Henry remained on the team. Five days later, he was cut when Green Bay trimmed the roster to 53. Still, he hoped to stay on with the Packers practice squad. Then, just before the squad was announced, Henry (@mitchhenry85) tweeted this message:

“God works in mysterious ways! Woke up this morning thinking I was living in Green Bay to now moving to Denver. #GoBroncos.”

The Broncos had picked him up off waivers. He and his wife Madison (newly married in June) headed to Colorado.

Mitchell says training with the Broncos was an adjustment after spending all summer learning the Packers approach to football.

“As far as the playbook, how practices ran and everything, I mean, it’s a whole new world. But I’m getting adjusted.”

Five weeks after moving to Denver, the Broncos cut Mitchell Henry. He didn’t see it coming. And yet, 24 hours later, he was headed back to Green Bay.

“I was excited about getting to go to Denver when they called, but I’m excited to come back as well. It’s a great place to be.”

Mitchell has always loved sports, although his dream of playing in the NFL didn’t come until later. While attending Elizabethtown High School, he played baseball, basketball, football, and even ran track. He began leaning more toward football when he realized he could play at the college level.

“I got to college and started succeeding there and then the coaches started telling me I could play in the NFL.” He became more focused.

“You just keep working, working hard, definitely, when it’s your passion,” he explains.

WKU’s Coach Jeff Brohm credits Henry with a strong work ethic, a hunger to excel, and a willingness to do whatever it takes.

[x_pullquote type=”left”]Battle of the undefeated: The 6-0 Green Bay Packers face off against the 6-0 Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football this week. The game will be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.[/x_pullquote]“He continued to work every year he was here to get better and grew into a strong NFL-ready tight end. He deserves his success, he’s a quality young man. I’m extremely proud of him.”

On the practice squad for now, Henry knows there are no guarantees and remains grateful for every experience, especially the opportunity to rejoin the Packers.

“It’s a great place, a great organization, and a great community. I feel comfortable here and I think I fit in well here.”

He’s even looking forward to playing at Lambeau Field during Green Bay’s legendary freezing cold winters.

“Yeah,” he laughs, “I’m good with that. I like snow. I like it better than the heat of Florida. It won’t be too bad.”

The future looks good.

“I hope so. You never know, though. You’ve just got to take it one day at a time.”


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