Henslee, with daughter, won MVP honors
When the final whistle blew and the trash talking was done at the Methodist Training Center Saturday afternoon, Team Print/Radio emerged with a Media Bowl VI victory, defeating Team TV, 31-20, and ending a year of speculation as to which side of the Houston media rules the flag football field.
In the seventh-annual Texans-hosted battle of Houston sports journalists, quarterback play was the difference as Print/Radio, wearing white, was led by quarterback and game MVP Robert Henslee of NewsRadio 740, KTRH. Henslee threw five touchdown passes on the day, earning his second consecutive Media Bowl MVP award – a feat no other player has accomplished in the history of the game.
"We watched for too many years while the TV guys were bringing out ringers," Henslee said after the game. "So we worked on it – we started working about three months ago on our plays. We had two-a-days for a while. Those that survived, we felt like we were going to win again.
"It's nice to win for a second time in a row – it looks like this is the start of our own dynasty."
Opposing players from the TV side marveled at Henslee's dominance.
"Their quarterback, he really did put some steam behind a couple of balls," said an exhausted Maurice May of Channel 2 KPRC. "Some of his passes you thought you could get there and bat it down, but he put a little something behind it."
May's own team, meanwhile, struggled to find a playmaking signal-caller all game, rotating quarterbacks to the tune of little success and multiple interceptions.
"There were a couple of times when our quarterback was forced to throw deep and we just didn't have that capability to make the big plays," said TV's Matt Sampsell of FOX26, who played both quarterback and wide receiver.
In the aftermath of the loss, when asked what his team needed most, May had a quick response.
"Quarterback. We need someone who can throw," he said. "If we get a consistent quarterback, they don't know how to play coverage, so we can take it next year."
Henslee threw three touchdown passes in the first half, including an 80-yard bomb to an unnamed Houston Chronicle intern who left TV defenders in his dust to make the halftime score 19-14 Print/Radio. As usual at the Texans Media Bowl, there was plenty of controversy surrounding the identity of the more skillful, speedy players.
"I don't know who the real fast dude was," May said. "He looked like somebody's I-AA wide receiver or something."
"We just hired those guys this morning," said Henslee. "We had a little tryout out here, and we hired them. They're our interns, all four of the really fast guys."
Unfazed by the disputed players and five-point deficit, FSN Houston's Patti Smith, who had a first-half touchdown reception, felt confident going into the second half.
"We like to let them stay close because we really kicked their butts for so many years," she said. "Last year we let them win. We don't want their morale to get down, so we're trying to keep it close before we make it a total blowout in the second half."
But Print/Radio's speedy Houston Chronicle interns, clutch quarterback play, and stalwart defense proved to be too much for the TV side. TV never led in the second half, but did make things interesting when a FOX26 employee made a huge interception off Henslee that set up a score to cut the deficit to 25-20. But with time winding down, Henslee sealed the victory and MVP honors with his fifth and final touchdown pass, making the score 31-20.
While the win had Print/Radio players talking dynasty, TV players scoffed at any the notion.
"A dynasty? Two in a row makes it a dynasty?" Sampsell said incredulously. "We won the first, what, four or five something like that? That's a dynasty. Come on, now. That's like comparing the Boston Celtics to the San Antonio Spurs or something. Come on."
Dynasty or not, Print/Radio rode another dominant performance by Henslee to become Media Bowl VI champions. Perhaps TV will find a quarterback to bring it back to glory next summer, but until then, its players can only wonder what it must feel like to be kings of the Houston flag football gridiron.