AP Story: Henderson Makes First All-Pro Team In His 10th NFL Season

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It took a decade but fullback William Henderson is finally racking up the honors.

He made his first NFC Pro Bowl squad last month and on Thursday was named to the AP's All-Pro team for the first time in his career.

"This is a little bigger deal than the Pro Bowl," Henderson said after making an exception to his personal policy of not talking to the media during the week when the Packers play a divisional opponent as they do Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings visit for a wild-card playoff game.

"I'm kind of blown away to be honest with you. This was nothing I was expecting," he said. "I'm a grunt workhorse, that's the way I look at it. That's what I do and I accepted that role a long time ago. I'm not expecting to get any accolades when I go out there."

But he's getting them now.

"He's been so persistent on being a constant professional for 10 straight years that people have finally recognized what he's capable of doing," coach Mike Sherman said. "Certainly, he's been highlighted in our offense a lot this year, particularly in the passing game and has been very productive. I don't know if there's a fullback out there that has the versatility of a William Henderson where he can block and catch and do all that we ask him to do."

Sherman said that after Henderson's career-long 38-yard touchdown pass Sunday at Chicago, he grabbed another player to take Henderson's spot on the ensuing kickoff coverage "and he'd have no part of it."

"He teaches great lessons to these young kids every day. If he can do it after 10 years, on kickoff and kickoff return and catch balls and do things the right now, as a coach, it's great to see this happen to a guy who has gone about his business the right way for so long that he's being recognized as one of the best."

Henderson has enjoyed a career revival since the Packers signed fellow fullback Nick Luchey to a six-year, nearly $6 million contract two summers ago.

"Well, I think Luchey may have been a motivational factor at one point, but in reality it's allowed William in his 10th year to be healthier at end of season," Sherman said. "He's not as beat up and banged up as he usually is because he's working with somebody else. And you know we basically for a long time just had one true fullback on the team and so he would bear the brunt of all the hits every time Ahman Green carried the ball or Dorsey Levens. I mean, he was lead blocker.

"So, in many respects, Luchey's allowed him an opportunity to be healthier throughout the course of the season. But I do believe that some of the competitiveness did come out. He had a great camp that year. I remember when Luchey came in a year ago and wasn't about to give up his spot readily."

Said offensive coordinator Tom Rossley: "He's a true pro. He deserves it as much as anybody because of the way he's worked and he never lets anything bother him. There was a time when people were doubting him and he never doubted himself and he's just a true pro."

Now, the Packers are benefiting from that tenacity by having two relatively fresh fullbacks to lead the way for running backs Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport in the playoffs.

Luchey's arrival helped Henderson weather the seasons better.

"Like right now he's playing well because he's not worn down," Rossley said. "Luchey takes half of his workload and we're one of the few teams that still uses a lot of two-backs (formations). And to be honest with you, over the last few years, William at the end of the year was kind of beat down. So, Luchey was helpful for him. I mean, that was part of the reason we did it was to have him healthy at the end of the year. Just as it helps Ahman to have Najeh, it helps William to have Luchey."

Being the sole lead blocker, "it's tough in this league. I mean, it wears you down. He's pretty fresh right now, which is good. That's a good sign. As you saw with his career longest touchdown last week," Rossley said.

"I think we're able to lean on our two-back stuff and late in the year, outdoors, we need to have a good fullback-blocking running attack and both Luchey and William are a big part of that."

Henderson appreciates Luchey sharing the workload but he insists it was another arrival that lit his competitive fire: that of his son, William, born on June 14, 2002.

"I'm so motivated to be the best dad I can for that little man because he has truly been the biggest blessing ever to happen in my life," Henderson said. "All these other accolades I appreciate them, but the honor of being a father, it's incredible. Fine-tuning everything at work, trying to get it done so that when I go home, there's no thought about what's going on at work or how I left things at work because I left it at work.

"As I walk across that doorstep, if my wife doesn't need me, it's his time. Typically she knows I want his time to come immediately. Where's my peanut? Where's my William?"

Henderson said he wants to set an example for his boy and that's what drives him to grind his way through season after season.

"That's my biggest motivation is being the best father for him and that means leaving a legacy in football in how I played," Henderson said. "I want him to be able to say, 'Yeah, my Dad did this, but that wasn't what my Dad was all about. He was about being a good father first and foremost and being a good community person.' My worth isn't going to be based on how much money I've made or how many honors I got playing sports. My legacy's going to be him."

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