New England Patriots offensive tackle Justin Herron was honored in Tempe, Arizona, on Wednesday for helping stop an attempted sexual assault that took place last week.
Herron, who was walking through a local park as a light workout when he witnessed the attack, heard the victim screaming. Together with Tempe resident Murry Rogers, he overwhelmed the perpetrator and detained him until police officers arrived at the scene.
“It was a crazy experience. Something that I never dreamed I thought I would see,” Herron said, via CBS. “You see it in movies and TV all the time but you never think it would happen in real life until it does. In that moment, I was in shock. It was 11 a.m., not one cloud in the sky and in a very open field. The fact that it happened there at that time was just very shocking.”
Herron is currently preparing for his second season in the NFL after the Patriots made him a sixth-round draft pick last year. The 25-year-old appeared in 12 games as a rookie, mostly serving in a reserve capacity.
His pro football experience, however, could not have prepared him for what happened on March 20.
“In the moment, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking, but I just knew that someone needed help,” Herron said. “All I could do was thrust myself over there and help the victim, make sure that I could comfort her and be the best person I could be to her around her.
“I’m a football player, so I’m kind of a big. I try not to be too aggressive knowing that I could hurt somebody. I do have a very loud voice, so I yelled and told him to get off of her. I yanked him off and told him to sit down. I told him to wait until the cops come.”
Herron, who met with Rogers and the victim on Wednesday, would not consider himself a hero for his actions, though.
“There are so many heroes that go unnoticed on a daily basis. I was just doing what anyone else would do in that moment,” the young lineman said.
“If there is someone in need, don’t turn a blind eye. I’m not saying an individual should go up and try to save an individual. You have to make sure you’re not putting your life in danger as well. But if you see someone in need, a simple phone call to the police could make the difference. Just yelling, doing something to make the perpetrator nervous, or bring light where someone else could come – I encourage people to help. It doesn’t have to be physical. You can help in many different ways.”