When the 2013 NFL season was winding down, speculation around the Dallas Cowboys began to include a potential return to Texas for Henry Melton. A native of nearby Grapevine, fans around the Metroplex longed to see the former Texas Longhorn return to his home state to continue his football career. Although Melton has proven his worth as a player many times over, I openly questioned if a return to his native soil might result in unrealistic expectations among a fanbase that always has lofty standards for their team. Now it seems that I was not alone in my feelings. Melton's mother, herself a Cowboys fan, shares my concern.
"It’s funny. When people heard about him coming back, they were like, ‘This is it for the Cowboys,’ and I was like, ‘They need a line, and he’s one person. I keep telling people, ‘He’s not the savior, and let’s get some help in here.’ " - Cinithia Melton
While Henry's family is excited to have him back home, they are aware that not only will he be competing against high expectations, Melton will also be battling to rebound from surgery on his knee. It was that knee that made it possible for the Cowboys to bring the running-back-turned-defensive-end-turned-defensive-tackle back to the Dallas area on a team-friendly contract. Currently he is on a one-year deal with a club option for up to three more seasons. If things do not work out, the team is only on the hook for $2.25 million dollars, a bargain for a player of his potential. On the other hand, if Melton returns to form, he could earn as much as $29 million for his time at home. So far, the rehabilitation process appears to be going well. Melton is expected to be ready to go when the Cowboys head to Oxnard, California later this summer.
What is still unknown is what form he'll be in once he takes to the football field. Some players never miss a beat in returning from an injury such as the one that ended Melton's time as a Chicago Bear; others are never the same. Excitement abounds as the local boy attempts to fill the void created by the departure of both DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher. Even Henry's sister, who along with her mother was at Henry's side throughout his rehab, shares in the enthusiasm.
"I’m just ready to see what he looks like since his surgery. I think he’s going to be awesome." - Kameisha Melton
The Melton family is very well-schooled in football. Momma Melton's brother, Ray Crockett, played 14 seasons as an NFL cornerback. Being realistic, they realize that Henry alone will not be the savior. A defensive front must work together, especially in Rod Marinelli's scheme. Henry will be a cog, perhaps even the key cog, but he cannot do it alone. Others will have to rise to the challenge as well for the prodigal son's return to be viewed as being the success that fans expect. Only time will tell, but Mrs. Melton knows one thing for sure. Henry is excited to be back home with his family and he has big plans for his time working for Jerry Jones.
"He wants to bring home a championship to the Cowboys."