After a six months no one should have to experience, Adam Henry just needed a minute.
Two days before he left for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2021 training camp, he buried his mother.
A week after the conclusion of their 2021 season — a disappointing January home playoff loss to San Francisco — Henry learned his father had passed away.
Altogether over the last two years, Henry lost eight family members due to the pandemic.
The death of his parents bookended the grueling demands of life as an NFL assistant coach, and Henry managed to lead the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers to a 12-5 season and the playoffs.
Henry is the youngest of eight siblings. He describes his parents’ relationship as similar to the move “The Notebook.” They met when they were 10 and 11, and raised eight kids together. But his father’s development of Alzheimer’s ultimately led to him not recognizing Henry’s mother.
That is where the story gets even more tragic.
“She didn’t really want to be here anymore because my father didn’t know who she was,” Henry said on Tuesday. “She basically willed herself in eight weeks not to be here anymore.”
So yeah, Henry just needed a minute.
Reports in February suggested Henry was offered a new contract by the Cowboys, but he declined.
“I thought about just taking a break,” Henry said. “It had been 25 years I’d been at it and never really settled down. Missed two brothers’ weddings, funerals, birthdays, get-togethers. There’s just so many things that you give up as a coach, and willingly and I would do it all over again, but at that time, I took time just to relax.”
And then out of the blue, Indiana’s Tom Allen called.
Allen had an opening due to the sudden departure of receivers coach Grant Heard, who left IU in early March to take the same position at Central Florida.
After taking six weeks to recharge, Henry, a husband and father of three, was intrigued by the culture at Indiana. After losing so much so fast, Allen’s “Love Each Other” message carried special significance.
“The atmosphere is totally what I’m looking for,” Henry said. … “It is a family setting here. I was just going to take some time off and Coach Allen reached out to me. I had heard a lot of positive things about him. Everything I’ve heard is real. It’s just a great fit for me right now.”
For Indiana, the addition of Henry to the staff seems like a bit of good fortune.
A position coach who can lay claim to developing Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Anquan Boldin, and Torry Holt just fell in their lap.
And Henry comes at a time when the IU wide receiver room is in a state of flux.
Although the Hoosiers have brought in some promising transfer and high school talent, wide receivers D.J. Matthews and Javon Swinton are the only returning players who had more than one reception last season, and Matthews is coming back from season ending knee surgery.
Henry will have his hands full with this group, but he doesn’t see it that way.
After what he’s been through, he’s just happy to have a comfortable place to call home.
“It’s a great opportunity for me,” Henry said. “It’s what I needed at this point in time.”
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