On Nov. 7, the Baltimore Ravens signed tight end Mitchell Henry to their practice squad. Three days later, the former Elizabethown High School and Western Kentucky standout was cut to make room for quarterback David Fales. He nonetheless expected to rejoin the organization the following week.
With the weekend off, Henry went home to Kentucky. Extreme pain in his shoulder developed. He underwent an MRI.
“If not for the (seemingly terrible idea at the time) release by the Ravens ... it possibly could have taken weeks longer to determine a diagnosis,” his brother, Ben Henry, wrote.
The diagnosis was acute myeloid leukemia. Cancer. Doctors had found a growth in his chest. According to ESPN, Henry is undergoing chemotherapy while a match is being sought for a bone marrow transplant.
Ben Henry’s fundraising effort already has surpassed his $15,000 goal, which he said will be used to defray expenses for Henry and his wife, help his family travel to see Mitchell Henry, and raise awareness for BeTheMatch, which helps to manage the national bone marrow registry list.
After his career at Western Kentucky, Henry signed with the Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent last season. He was released at the end of training camp, then was claimed off waivers by the Denver Broncos in September 2015. He later returned to the Packers as a practice squad member, but after breaking a finger for the second time in as many training camps with the team, he was released.
Henry underwent physicals with the Ravens and three other teams that worked him out this season, according to ESPN. None found the mass in his chest.
Packers pledge to support Henry
Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy said the team will support Henry.
“I think it knocked all of us over,” McCarthy said, according to the team’s website. “Frankly, it explained some things, too, because Mitchell just wasn’t quite right in training camp.
“We don’t know the extent of it. We just know what the initial diagnosis is, but he will definitely get support from the Green Bay Packers.”
Henry is a close friend of current Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis.
“It’s obviously something that was unexpected,” Janis said. “He started having some pain in his shoulder and went and got it looked at. They found a mass and just did more testing and found that out. … I just keep praying for him.
“He’s in pretty good spirits and he’s going to fight it hard.”