Be honest: You thought Travis Henry's career as a Denver Broncos running back was deader than Napoleon, didn't you? After all, as local attorney Harvey Steinberg told the Rocky Mountain News, nobody wins NFL appeals on third-strike drug cases like Henry's, which revolved around a positive test for marijuana that leaked out in October. Besides, Henry isn't the planet's most sympathetic character. On top of his four-game suspension in 2005 for failing a previous test, Henry has fathered nine children by nine different women. Guess becoming a celebrity endorser for Trojan condoms is out of the picture.
Now, however, Henry's suspension has been waived -- and his approach to defending himself is likely to become a template for future balling potheads.
Rather than simply rolling over on the question of whether he rolled his own, Henry aggressively denied having inhaled and quickly lined up a hair test that brought the previous results into question. He also took a lie-detector test, and although the results of such examinations are considered ultra-dubious (which is why they're not admissible in court), they bolstered him in the eyes of fans and impressed Mike Shanahan enough that the coach publicly announced his support. These efforts produced enough of a smokescreen, as it were, to create doubt as per Henry's guilt. In a public statement, the NFL insisted that the hair-sample and lie-detector data played no part in the decision to clear Henry, but that's nonsense. Simply put, the League no longer had an open-and-shut case and decided to cut its losses rather than engage in a protracted battle it had every chance of losing -- at least in the court of public opinion.
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Of course, Henry has to avoid first- and second-hand weed fumes from here on out, since he's still being tested every twenty minutes or so, and if he's flunks again, his tack this time around will ring false. Even so, he's set the standard when it comes to avoiding punishment for taking one toke over the line. Betcha Ricky Williams' lawyers are taking notes. -- Michael Roberts