Published on May 28, 2017 6:06 PM by dbo.
Introducing a new type of post on CFLdb, which may become an irregular series, Research Assignments will be a request to the Canadian Football research community to research and clarify discrepancies or ambiguities in the statistics record. Researchers get to do what they like, which is research, the statistical record gets corrected or clarified with sources and reference material, and CFLdb focuses on developing the sites rather than research into potential data issues. As always, credit will fall to the researchers, with a summary of research findings submitted to CFLdb published here, but researchers are free to publish elsewhere.
The first assignment is Bill Henry. In the mid-to-late-eighties, the source record has two Bill Henry’s on the Saskatchewan Roughrider roster. The goal is to unravel if they are the same person, or two unique individuals.
Update May 2018: Additional information added
Current Status: Case open, unsolved
FFR = CFL annual Facts, Figures and Records publication
CPFE = Canadian Professional Football Encyclopedia publication
The facts are as follows:
Selected by Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 5th round (38th overall) of the 1986 CFL College Draft. Traded to Winnipeg Blue Bombers in June, 1987. Released by Winnipeg in July, 1987 and returned to the Richmond Raiders (Jr.) for a year. Signed with Saskatchewan in March, 1988.
I think the following errors are clear:
There are a lot of discrepancies in the facts. Questions remain to be answered to clarify these facts and eliminate the potential ambiguity.
It seems logical that these are the same Bill Henry, as there is no evidence of another player with the same name, playing the same position. But why was he dropped from CFL records, receiving no credit for games played in FFR for 1986 season?
First, let me state these theories are not to malign practices or raise controversy for something that occurred over 30 years ago. It is to set the record and facts straight, and properly account for what happened and credit the proper individuals for their service.
One theory is the team brought him on to the practice roster after drafting him, and dressed him as a backup in a couple games, and in order to maintain his Junior eligibility, this participation was expunged. However, in 1986 a graduating Junior was the year a player turned 23, and Henry would have been 25 in Aug. 1986 by his latest known birthdate. I also don’t recall what, if any, professional participation did to Junior eligibility in that era (was 2 or 3 games too many?). It does raise the question of how a 26-year old Henry could return to the Richmond Raiders Jr. in 1987 after being cut by the Bombers as the record states.
A simpler theory is that although Bill Henry was on the Roughrider practice roster in 1986, and was slated to dress for 3 games, he in fact was a late scratch, and therefore did not register any games played. However, player participation records should show the game difference in another player, and they don’t. The only way the roster numbers balance is with Henry on the roster. Sticking with the simple, it is possible these are the same Henry (ignoring the Junior eligibility) and confusion with Henry Williams saw Bill Henry’s 1986 participation lost, that, with paper record keeping, was never rectified.
Another theory is this is just the result of bad record keeping. Missed in the original records in 1986, the 2 or 3 games were lost and with no electronic record keeping, the only person who could correct it was Bill Henry, who wasn’t aware or concerned about what FFR said. This jives with CFL Statistician Steve Daniel correcting the CFL record with those games, though the position was incorrect, and they being the same Bill Henry. The CPFE either did not get this information, or faced with ambiguity, did not list the games with the known Bill Henry nor create another Bill Henry with no known college, birthdate or birthplace, or based their research off the 1987 FFR which listed Henry Williams as the owner of the 3 games.
A final theory is there were two players named Bill Henry, one was from UBC and drafted, and another, a little younger, was a Junior player. The draftee played with the Roughriders in 1986. The Junior player attended training camp with Winnipeg in 1987 before returning to Richmond Jr. and then signing with Saskatchewan in 1988. The mixup occurred when Saskatchewan and Winnipeg traded a Bill Henry or when the second Bill Henry signed in Saskatchewan, though perhaps Winnipeg already had the rights to a Junior Bill Henry. This only makes sense if Winnipeg owned Bill Henry’s rights due to his being from Manitoba. Since the known Bill Henry is stated to be born in Minneapolis, MN, where his rights would belong is unclear, and such information may discredit or help the case of separate college and Junior Bill Henrys.
To resolve this, proof will be required of the 1986 Bill Henry’s biographical information. This may be found from a 1986 game program that lists his birthdate and school, or media guide, or other source from the era.
Barring such a source, the known Bill Henry may need to clarify if he dressed for any games in 1986. If not him, an investigation into what other non-import Bill Henry offensive linemen of the time will be required, and who could be this second Bill Henry.
An analysis of all of Saskatchewan’s 1986 rosters could determine if the Bill Henry listed with 3 GP by the CFL is in error. Below are links to published rosters for 17 of 18 Saskatchewan games that season. (Links are as close to actual listing as possible, scroll to locate if not visible).
Of course, don’t take anything I’ve stated here as absolute fact. I may have erred in my eyesight, interpretation or by omission. Researchers, alumni, the real Bill Henry, I challenge you to get to the bottom of this once and for all. Besides the glory, you don’t know what else you may receive for your efforts.