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Former Vikings' linebacker E.J. Henderson joins teams front office


Former Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson has been named the team's Youth Football Manager.

The Vikings made the announcement on Wednesday.

Henderson, who played nine seasons as a linebacker with the Vikings, will join the community relations team. His priorities will be to promote new community-based youth football initiatives, work on health and safety issues and expand the Vikings' programming in greater Minnesota. The team says Henderson will also assist youth programs, including Vikings of Tomorrow, USA Football, Community Quarterback Awards, the All-State High school Football Team and Heads Up Football.

Henderson said he was excited to be back with the team.

Henderson played for the Vikings from 2003-2011. He suffered a broken left femur in 2009, but he returned to make the Pro Bowl in 2011. Lingering problems slowed Henderson though in his final contract year and he hasn't played since.

1500 ESPN reports that Henderson set the groundwork for the position while he was still playing. He founded the E.J. Henderson Youth Foundation in 2007, which focuses on the NFL's 'Play 60' initiative for active youth.

"I've dealt with youth football with the Vikings since I was a player and even after I retired," Henderson said. "So this is an extension of that."

Henderson geared his post-football career towards mentoring youth, the Pioneer Press reports. His father continues to run a youth center in Maryland.

Henderson will specifically work with the programs to help teach proper tackling and reduce concussions and head injuries.

"I think it's crucial for the future of our game, not only for the players but for the parents, so they can feel safe about sending their kids out there to play, Henderson said. "The awareness has changed 20-fold. So I'm excited; this is something we want to focus on."

Vikings owner and president Mark Wilf said the team is thrilled to have Henderson join the front office.

"He has always had a commitment to the Minnesota community, and this role will be an excellent fit for him and the Vikins," Wilf said.

Henderson was drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. His efforts helped the Vikings lead the league against the run for three consecutive seasons. He led the team in tackles three times and was named the Vikings Defensive MVP by his teammates in 2007.

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