Hyde: Former Dolphin Chad Henne found his role — and now chases a second Super Bowl ring | Commentary

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Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·3 min read
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When we last left Chad Henne, he was throwing another interception against the New England Patriots. Or limping through a 6-10 season in 2011. No, wait. He was in an intrasquad scrimmage that delivered a memorable Miami Dolphins quote when fans saw him and chanted, “We Want [Kyle] Orton.”

That wasn’t the quote.

“You mean besides wanting to throw up?” coach Tony Sparano said of his reaction to the chant.

That was the quote.

But there was Henne, the Kansas City Chiefs back-up quarterback, on a virtual podium Wednesday during Super Bowl Week. He was feted for playing at age 35. He was asked about the social-media tag of #HenneGivenDay. He gave details on what makes Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes great.

Henne also was repeatedly asked to break down — nearly step by step — coming off the sideline to replace Mahomes for a crucial, 14-yard run in the playoff win against the Cleveland Browns.

“To do it on the biggest stage, playoff game, what a great opportunity,” Henne said. “It [shows] how the hard work you put in through the years, you can step in any time and lead your team to victory.”

You have to be happy for him, right? Sports is so much about roles and Henne found his. A mentor. A back-up. A wise old man on the sideline who has sculpted a modest career to be proud of.

He’s the last Dolphins standing from the distant 2008 draft class. He moves closer to a Dolphins record, too — a record that only a franchise hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in 36 years and has been through the tumult of the past couple of decades can have:

Most rings as an ex-Dolphin.

“It’d be exciting to have a chance for a second one,” he said.

Larry Izzo, the former undrafted special-teams standout, has three rings with New England. Rob Ninkovich won two with the Patriots. There’s a connection of sorts, too. Ninkovich said when cut in 2009 that general manager Jeff Ireland told him the Dolphins, “were looking for a Larry Izzo-type.”

Henne can be proud of lasting this long. He came in as a second-round pick in 2008, sat the season learning behind Chad Pennington and became the starter when Pennington separated his shoulder early in 2009.

There was hope for him. There also were 31 touchdowns against 39 interceptions over the next few years.

“Obviously as a young player, you develop in different stages,” he said. “I’m proud of where I came from. I learned a lot of things in Miami. I cherish all the relationships there. The biggest takeaway is facing adversity.

“Times weren’t always great in Miami. The ability to come back each Sunday and keep fighting and keep learning and try to help the football team win was a big part of my growth throughout my career.”

It’s odd how it all worked out. Henne threw nearly double the touchdowns at Michigan than Tom Brady. This week he’s role-playing as Tampa Bay’s Brady in Kansas City practices for Sunday’s game.

Henne doesn’t wear his ring much.

“I learned from somebody back in the day at Michigan, Johnny, our equipment guy, when asked, ‘What’s your favorite ring?’ and he said, ‘The next one,’ " Henne said. “So I tucked the ring in a safe. You cherish the moment, once you win one, and put it away and look for the next one.”

All of this brings up Dan Marino’s perspective of never having won a ring. He once commented his college teammate at Pitt, Tommy Flynn, got a Super Bowl ring as a New York Giants reserve. Does that mean he had a better career?

No, of course not.

It just means Henne could have two more Super Bowl rings in the past three years than anyone on the team that drafted him has had in 47 years.