Erin Henderson 'grateful' for chance to turn his life around

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Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson believes his life is back on track following two drunken driving arrests last season that ultimately led to his release from the Vikings.

Henderson was arrested on suspicion of DUI and drug use in November of last year and again on New Year's Day. The Vikings released him on Feb. 7 and he has yet to sign with another team. But that seems to be the least of Henderson's worries. In a letter to TMZ, Henderson said he is "grateful" that his arrests helped him understand he was hurting himself, and his family.

"Never in a million years would I have thought the worst experience in my life would turn out to be the best things that ever happen to me," Henderson wrote. "A new person was birthed through the cycle of acknowledging a problem, addressing it, seeking help, and moving forward."

Henderson admitted that hours after his release from jail on Jan. 2, he checked into Hazelden Treatment Center in Center City, Minnesota, where he learned that "sober Erin's light shines 100 times greater than 'using' Erin ever could."

In an interview with USA Today, Henderson opened up further about his problem with alcohol and marijuana use. He refers to himself as a "recovering alcoholic" beginning a "lifelong journey."

Despite finishing last season with career highs in tackles, sacks and interceptions, Henderson said his Viking teammates could tell when he came to practice hung over.

"There would be times where I would come to practice hung over," he admitted. "Never just fresh off of drinking coming into practice. But I might have had a rough night the night before, and I'd be in front of the huddle calling plays. And everybody would know that I had been out drinking the night before.

"Of course, that affects the ability to go out there and perform and be the best that you can be. But I'd been doing it for so long and it's something that I had gotten used to."

Henderson, 27, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing May 5 in Carver County. He faces nine charges, including four counts of DUI and two counts of drug possession.

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