Blizzard Lineman Hendrickson Hoping for Another Chance in the NFL

Published 02/24 2013 11:09PM

Updated 02/24 2013 11:14PM

Tyler Hendrickson faced an uphill battle to play in the NFL.

The tight end/defensive end turned offensive lineman was lightly recruited out of high school and ended up playing college football close to home at Division-II Concordia University in St. Paul Minnesota.

Four years later he left Concordia as one of the best lineman in Division II.

Last May Hendrickson was invited to Chicago Bears rookie minicamp, and the 6'7" 320 pound tackle proved no challenge was too big for him to tackle.

"Never really thought the small school kid could do anything," Hendrickson said of the experience with the Bears.  "But I came back and Sunday right after the camp, Mike Tice says 'hey we are going to sign you.'  Dreams came true."

And that news couldn't have come on a better day.

"Called my mom, said Happy Mother's Day, I'm staying out here."

The offensive tackle stacked up physically standing next to other pro players, but he also admits the next level is intimidating.

"You're scared," says Hendrickson.  "Little puppy, big city.  It was nerve-racking the first month, month and a half."

Hendrickson found out why the NFL is sometimes called the "not for long" league. Three months after being signed to a three-year contract by the Bears, the lineman was was cut, but encouraged by some parting words he received in Chicago.

"You have all the tools; you have the size," says Hendrickson when asked what he was told by the team. You just need to get stronger."

Having not played in an actual game in almost two years, Hendrickson decided not to wait for his next chance at the NFL.  He signed with the Green Bay Blizzard to get back on the football field, so he could continue adding to his resume.

"He really does it all," says Blizzard Head Coach Robert Fuller.  "He's got great feet, very technical.  As I've told him, you can't coach 6-7 320.  I expected his skill set to be what it is, but I think the most pleasant surprise for me as a coach is just the personality and the humble nature.  He's about as far from big-time as you can get."

Maybe an even bigger surprise to those who only know the massive Hendrickson as a football player, he almost chose to play hockey following high school instead.

 "Yes, played hockey, I was going to go play junior actually until football gave me some football scholarships.  I was 6-7 210 pounds, so almost a hundred pounds less."

"You don't play hockey without being a tough guy," Fuller says.  "I think there's times where I see him quick step and those types of things; I kind of see that hockey player in him where he covers a lot of ground in a short amount of space." 

 The 2013 Scouting Combine has landed a new crop of college offensive line talent onto the NFL radar, which means Hendrickson's uphill climb could get even tougher.

 He doesn't see it that way.

"The one thing I have is the experience," says Hendrickson.  Four months or whatever it was out in Chicago, they weren't out there.  They had a good group of tackles come out last year; I was top five in the (combine) numbers.  I ain't really worried."

That's the sound of the new Hendrickson, no longer the underdog, with the mindset that nobody will block him from getting back to the NFL.

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