HE WAS IN PAWTUCKET, or maybe it was Toledo, or it might’ve been Syracuse. Days and nights in the International League, baseball’s final weigh station bridging the minor leagues and major leagues, blend together like that. All Drew Henson remembers is that he was in some minor league town, in the midst of a dire slump — like, 2-for-25 bad — when he saw some old friends on the TV at the sports bar where he was eating dinner.
They were playing on Monday Night Football. And he was in Scranton or Richmond or Durham or wherever it was, playing baseball after having foregone a chance to play quarterback in the NFL. Drew Henson was Kyler Murray before Kyler Murray. And as Murray’s impending early entry into the NFL draft following his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Oklahoma further complicates his football-vs.-baseball decision, the stakeholders in his career are trying to better understand the true strength of each sport’s allure.
The Oakland Athletics chose Murray with the ninth pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft and lavished him with a $4.66 million bonus. They still believe he will play baseball. NFL teams are frothing over his college tape and giving themselves every reason to look past his 5-foot-9 frame. They’re convinced he will play football.
“A lot of it comes down to what’s in your heart, what’s your passion, what you can be excited to do for this next chapter of your life,” Henson told ESPN in a phone conversation Thursday. “Do you like watching film more than you like hitting in the cage? Are you willing to give two seasons to staying in small towns and hotels and grinding it out and struggling and playing in front of 500 people when guys you dominated in college are playing on Monday Night Football?”