Behind the Scenes in the NFL

Thomas 'Hollywood' Henderson on violence and drugs in the NFL


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," January 29, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Personal Story Segment" tonight. The Super Bowl is coming on Sunday evening as you know. It will likely break viewing records.

There is no question the National Football League is now the marquee entertainment industry in America. It brings billions of dollars to the economy. But there's controversy within the NFL, mainly injuries and drug use. Enter former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Thomas Henderson who played in three Super Bowls one victory and two defeats. I talked with Mr. Henderson earlier this week.


O'REILLY: So, I knew you back in the `70s in your hay day you remember I worked for channel 8 in Dallas. And you were a brilliant linebacker, you were one of the best in the NFL. And I'm wondering what you think about all this concussion business.

THOMAS "HOLLYWOOD" HENDERSON, FORMER NFL LINEBACKER: Well, I'm one of the people who, you know, have suffered from concussions. I'm 60 years old. I broke my neck, with a bad concussion in 1981 while playing for the Miami Dolphins. And I was like in Zuzuland (ph) for about three days. And I woke up to a doctor standing over me, telling me that I couldn't play football anymore. So, the concussion debate is a very serious one. I just hope that everybody then just starts coming up with dementia because they read what the payout is for different degrees.

O'REILLY: And so, you believe that there is - there can be potentially an element of fraud in this dimension thing, where you could always find a doctor to say, hey, he's got dementia and then you're looking for a big payout from the NFL. I think that's a legitimate point. But there is no doubt and I think you're living proof of this. That if you get a number of concussions in any sport. But in football, you're going to pay a price.

HENDERSON: You know, my long and short term memories, you know, I'm 60 though. You know, I think this is one of the things called old age too a little bit for some of us.

O'REILLY: Wait a minute, Thomas, wait, wait, wait. I'm older than you.

HENDERSON: Well, you know, one of the side effects. That's a screaming, and I think I've seen you scream a few times.


O'REILLY: That's a good point, but I never had as many concussions as you. I just played college ball.

All right, let's take a look at the Super Bowls. You played in three Super Bowls.


O'REILLY: And one of the shocking things that you have said is that in a Super Bowl game in 1979 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, you used cocaine during the game.

HENDERSON: Very, very ashamed of that. But let me just put it in perspective. By 1979, in my nose my septum was a scab. The only way for me to function without tears in my eyes was to put more cocaine on it. So I put it in a liquid form and I regret this.

O'REILLY: That's so hard to believe that nobody from the team knew that? You were hiding that from everyone?

HENDERSON: I was medicating - you know, cocaine is an anesthetizing substance. Put in water form, whatever you put it on, it numbs it.

O'REILLY: This Super Bowl hoopla has become the biggest attraction in the world. What kind of pressure is there on - or was there on you, starting linebacker, Dallas Cowboys, in the Super Bowl. Were you nervous when that game began?

HENDERSON: Absolutely. You know, the Denver, we beat Denver in '77 but against the Steelers. You know, the Dallas Cowboys had their P.R. firm and their P.R. people and they decided who would really talk to the media. And I got a little sick of that. And so I struck out of my own and started saying controversial stuff. Gill Brandt came up to me one day and said, you know, Terry Bradshaw really wanted to go to LSU, but his grades would only allow him to go to Louisiana Tech, and so, you know, I just came up with that line. Bradshaw couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the C and the A, which got me on the cover of "Newsweek." I regret saying that, and I did make amends to Terry Bradshaw. But it's the trash talking, but more importantly when game time comes you have got to perform.

O'REILLY: Was it worth it? Would you do it all over again?

HENDERSON: I wouldn't do it the same way, Bill. I wish I would have never taken that first drink or smoked that first joint. And when I look back at my life, you know, finishing college, finishing high school, number one draft choice for the Cowboys playing with the star on my helmet. Very proud of all of that. It was the embarrassing of my family with the addiction and jail and, you know what I mean? I really had to make some deep amends to my mother, so I would do some of it over again but not all of it.

O'REILLY: Well, I can say this. You know, you had a lot of concussions. You played very tough, but you are still articulate, you're still able to get a good point across. And we appreciate your time tonight, Thomas. Good luck to you.

HENDERSON: Thank you, Bill.


O'REILLY: And a reminder on Super Bowl Sunday, at about 4:30 Eastern Time, I will be doing a live interview with President Obama on the Fox broadcast network, part of the pregame show. And I hope you check it out.

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