The Packers "Tailgate Tour" is underway and its first stop on its five-day swing through Wisconsin was a surprise visit at Omro High School near Oshkosh.
Approximately 1,200 students were entertained by a Packers contingent that includes current players Jordy Nelson, Mason Crosby and Charlie Peprah, former players Larry McCarren, Marco Rivera and William Henderson, and Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. Teamwork and bullying were the topics on which the players spoke, and Henderson is just the right guy to have delivered the message on bullying.
"I wasn't a bully, I was bullied," the former Packers fullback said. "I was a nerd, for the most part. I was a chubby kid. I was picked on because I was fat and I was picked on because I had trouble playing in the heat. I was picked on because I liked the arts. I wasn't part of the drug trade and where I came from the drug trade was king."
Henderson, a third-round draft choice from North Carolina in 1995, played 12 seasons for the Packers.
"Most of the kids remembered. I was shocked. It's been five years. The future of the Packer nation is strong," he said.
Henderson delivered an energetic address that urged students to be responsible members of their community.
"It comes from my background. We are part of the community. High school is a reflection of the community. They are the future of the community and they can help the community thrive if they accept their responsibility," he said of his message.
"Bring economic and social success to the community. Help their weakest link become strong and then that community can thrive, flourish."
How did Henderson avoid being bullied?
"I found my strength. I found inner strength. I surrounded myself with people who were positive. I put myself in the company of people who were trying to be over-achievers. I'm very proud of the group I hung with," he told the students.
"Did they understand it and did it make sense? It did. They nodded their heads."
Henderson is an active member of Packers alumni and is bringing the "Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt" franchise to Wisconsin, with plans to open eight franchises in the next 4-6 months. The first to open is set for Whitefish Bay in Milwaukee, followed by a store in Stevens Point.
"I enjoy reaching out. Maybe I can reach one kid who is at a crossroads, give them a little bit of a push in the right direction," Henderson said of his interest in youth.
The "Tailgate Tour's" next stop was set for the Tomah Veteran's Association Medical Center in the afternoon, followed by a "Tailgate Party" in La Crosse that is to benefit "Children of the Heart."