Reports surfaced early Wednesday morning that former Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson has died just eight days shy of his 36th birthday.
On behalf of the Lehigh Football Program I would like to extend my condolences to the family of our Brother, Lehigh Lightning & Florida State Seminole GREAT, Mr. Mario Henderson! #BoltUp #RestInPeace #Noleforever pic.twitter.com/FIkam787X0— Coach Chaney (@coachchaney96) October 21, 2020
Current head coach of Henderson’s high school — Lehigh Senior High School in Fort Myers, Florida — and fellow Seminole, James Chaney, was the first to report the unfortunate news.
Henderson didn’t start playing football at Lehigh until his senior year and finished as a decorated two-sport athlete there. He averaged over 28 points and 14 rebounds a game during his senior season on the hard court playing basketball and later became a member of the Florida State Seminoles offensive line under legendary head coach Bobby Bowden.
Henderson played for FSU from 2003-2007 and blossomed into a top-flight offensive tackle once he became the full-time starter in 2006.
Personally, I covered Florida State as a student during two of Super Mario’s seasons, and there was hardly a better interview, a better player on and off the field, nor a harder worker on the field. A particular memory is that of his work in the sand pits, as I had never seen a man his size move as quick through the sand.
I also vividly remember seeing him during an early spring practice, then not again until summer workouts with just about every single inch of his upper body covered in tattoos in what felt like a massive transformation. I, to this day, credit Super Mario with one of the reasons why I continued to accrue tattoos myself.
Through three seasons on the field with the Raiders, Henderson played 1,793 career snaps, mainly at left tackle with some sporadic times at right tackle in his last season with the team in 2010.
After four years with the Raiders, he spent a season with the then-San Diego Chargers before joining the Virginia Destroyers, Utah Blaze, Colorado Ice and Tampa Bay Storm of the United Football, Indoor Football and Arena Football Leagues, respectively.
Through his NFL career, he had 28 career starts with another 16 starts at Florida State.
A vocal member and supporter of the Seminoles and Raider Nation after his retirement from the NFL, Mario will be missed a ton, nationwide.
Rest in peace, Super Mario.