SI.com 2003 NFL Draft 2003 NFL Draft


On second thought

Henry calmer after calling McGahee pick 'slap in the face'

Posted: Sunday April 27, 2003 3:39 PM
Updated: Sunday April 27, 2003 11:15 PM

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Running back Travis Henry was angry at first when Buffalo picked Willis McGahee in the first round.

Believing his starting job was being threatened, Henry called it "a slap in the face" when the Bills selected McGahee of Miami with the 23rd pick in the NFL draft Saturday.

Henry didn't back off Sunday, but was a little more diplomatic after the Bills reassured him that his job was safe.

"When you see something like that immediately, you're going to react that way," Henry's agent, Greg Johnson, said. "Immediately his natural reaction was, 'What's going on here? and I feel like it's a slap in the face because they don't need a running back at the first pick.'"

Henry, the NFL's fifth-leading rusher last season, was in better spirits after Bills vice president Jim Overdorf spoke with Johnson and reassured him that Henry was their starter.

And head coach Gregg Williams played down any potential conflict McGahee's addition will have with Henry.

"There's no message sent to Travis Henry. Gregg Williams is a fan of Travis Henry," Williams said. "He'll be fine. And I'll talk with him when he gets back in."

Bills president Tom Donahoe said that while Henry was taken aback by McGahee's addition, he also welcomed the competition.

"Obviously, he was in shock. Was there anybody in Buffalo that wasn't in shock?" Donahoe said. "And I think Travis' reaction was probably a pretty natural reaction. We have not found Travis Henry to be anything but a competitive, aggressive tough football player.

"And this addition is not going to make him any different."

The Bills created quite a stir when they picked McGahee. Once projected to be a top-five pick, McGahee's stock plummeted when he tore three ligaments in his left knee in Miami's championship game loss to Ohio State last January.

Despite having successful reconstructive surgery, there were questions about whether he would ever play again after setting school records with 1,753 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns last season.

Though it's uncertain whether McGahee will play for the Bills next season, Donahoe said team doctors reassured him that the player's rehab is ahead of schedule and he can fully recover.

"It was never really a whim," Donahoe said, adding that he informed owner Ralph Wilson of the team's intentions to draft McGahee on Friday.

Henry, the Bills' second-round pick in 2001, is coming off a breakout year in which he finished with 1,438 yards rushing, 309 yards receiving and led the team with 14 touchdowns.

He was so sure of his future with Buffalo that he recently agreed to a one-year contract extension, locking him in through the 2005 season.

McGahee said he hopes to learn from Henry.

"I think we'll have a good relationship," McGahee said. "The first thing is I've got to learn. I've got to learn from him and hopefully he'll help me out. Other than that, we're teammates. We're going to be working together on this."

 
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