Mandich Believed in Henne to the End

True-aqua-blue Dolphins fans are probably torn this morning. Here they were hating Chad Henne and hoping their team would draft a quarterback and realizing they'd be stuck with the stinker from Michigan for another year when they didn't, when their patron saint bequeathed them a parting message: You must believe and be patient.

Perfect Season Fins Jim Mandich believed. And two days before his death, that's what "Mad Dog" told former teammates Nick Buoniconti and Dick Anderson on their final Sunday together.

"You guys gotta give my boy Henne a break," Buoniconti said, quoting Mandich, at a public tribute last night at Sun Life Stadium. "He's still going to be the best quarterback [the Dolphins] have. Tell the fans to be patient with him."

Buoniconti later expounded on those remarks, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel.

"Jim would say, 'Chad Henne is going to be one hell of a quarterback in this league, and these guys have to give him a break," Buoniconti said.

Some might say Mandich had a soft spot for Henne. Both were from Michigan, and Mandich's oldest boy was Henne's college roommate.

Henne told the Sentinel:

"Jim's always had confidence in me. Whether it was due to a good friendship or he does really believe in me, which I'm sure he did, it was just great to have support from him, being the kind of guy he was. He was always critical. Didn't always let me slide away but always gave me a pat on the back and said, 'You're OK.' I appreciate everything he's done for me."

Mandich reiterated his sense of confidence the last time the two men spoke, according to the Sentinel.

"Just keep your head up, kid. You're going to do all right in this league. You've got the talent and the ability."

It's something loyal Fins fans -- who have been hoping the team picks up another quarterback -- will have to ponder as the season approaches.

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