As William Henderson cleaned out his locker last week to head into the offseason, he wasn't blind to the obvious.
With 26-year-old Nick Luchey on the roster, the 32-year-old Henderson is no longer the Green Bay Packers' future at fullback.
But after nine NFL seasons, Henderson isn't ready to be part of the Packers' past either. And although it remains to be seen whether the Packers can afford to keep both players on the roster in 2004, Henderson is hoping to stick around.
"I would never be one to say I'm definitely going to be here (in 2004)," Henderson said. "But if it were an option, I would love to be here. I love playing for this organization and I think everybody knows where my heart is when it comes to football and how I play."
Henderson's current contract doesn't expire until 2005. He's been the Packers' primary starting fullback for the last eight seasons.
But by the end of 2003, Henderson was forced to split reps with the bigger-bodied Luchey, who at 270 pounds is a punishing lead blocker in the Packers' run-oriented offense.
In so many ways the two-person attack seemed to indicate a changing of the guard, but in a season that saw the Packers compile a franchise-record 2,558 rushing yards, it could just be a sign of the times.
"The way I want to play offense, you need two fullbacks and so I favor that," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said in his season-ending press conference. "If you don't have two legitimate guys at fullback and one of them gets banged up, you shut down and you become a different football team.
"This has happened to us in the past. Fortunately, it didn't happen to us this year."
From Sherman's perspective, the Henderson-Luchey tandem not only aided their own health over the course of the season, but also benefited Pro Bowl running back Ahman Green, who had a career-high with 355 carries in the regular season, plus 63 more in the postseason, but finished 2003 as healthy as ever.
Henderson went without a carry for the first time in his career, but still made 24 catches, just two fewer than in 2002, providing evidence that he can still be effective in a reduced role.
"I've always been of the mindset that it's nice to have a backup playing," Henderson said. "Right now you've got an opportunity not just to have a backup playing, but a tandem that could really wreak havoc.
"There are ways to use us both ... We both have a lot of fun doing our jobs. We both work well together. We don't mind sharing. But (the Packers) will have to make the business decisions."
If the Packers elect to part with the North Carolina alumnus, Henderson is prepared to take his game elsewhere.
He's never made the Pro Bowl in his career, but was voted as an alternate for the NFC all-star squad on several occasions including last season.
"I've been very fortunate to play with this organization for nine years," said Henderson, who is one of only three 2003 starters -- quarterback Brett Favre and nose tackle Gilbert Brown being the other two -- to have also started Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII. "I'm hoping I can get a 10th in because it has been one of the most rewarding feelings and situations I've ever been in.
"Everything I've given, I think I've received something back. It hasn't always been accolades, but it's been the rewarding feeling of being around guys who enjoy playing the game. The competitors in this locker room just make you want to come to work every day."