Charlie Hennigan

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Charlie Hennigan
No. 37, 87
Position: Wide receiver
Personal information
Born: (1935-03-19)March 19, 1935
Bienville, Louisiana
Died: December 20, 2017(2017-12-20) (aged 82)
Humble, Texas
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 187 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school: Minden (LA)
College: Northwestern State
Undrafted: 1960
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions: 410
Receiving yards: 6,823
Touchdowns: 51
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Charles Taylor Hennigan, Sr. (March 19, 1935 – December 20, 2017) was an American football player with the former Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL).[1]

Background

Born in Bienville in Bienville Parish in north Louisiana, Hennigan was reared in nearby Minden, the parish seat of Webster Parish, located thirty miles east of Shreveport. His father, Clarence Roland Hennigan (1905–1992),[2] was still a sheriff's deputy when he died at the age of eighty-seven, having served under Webster Parish Sheriffs J. D. Batton, O. H. Haynes, Jr., and Royce L. McMahen. He was the oldest serving sheriff's deputy in the state. Deputy Hennigan said that the crime rate at the time was a fraction of what it became in later decades. Hennigan referred to Batton and the two successor sheriffs as "all quite capable of the job. They were all decent, honorable, honest people, and I'm proud to have been able to have worked with them."[3]

His mother, Lura E. Hennigan (1916–1997),[2] though originally Baptist became a Pentecostal minister, piano teacher, and artist. She wrote a regular column entitled "The Abundant Life" for the Minden Press-Herald.[4]

Hennigan graduated in 1953 from Minden High School, where he excelled in football, basketball, and track as well as academics.

Football career

Hennigan attended LSU on a track scholarship but wanted to play football. He therefore transferred to Northwestern State University (then Northwestern State College) in Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he became the star of the team. In 1960, he joined the American Football League's Houston Oilers in the team's first year of operation. Prior to joining the Oilers, he had taught high school biology at a salary of some $2,700 per year. He kept his teacher pay stub in his helmet to remind him that he must succeed in pro athletics.

Hennigan scored the first touchdown in Oilers history, catching a 43-yard touchdown pass from George Blanda in the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders. That year, he caught 44 passes for 722 yards, averaging 16.4 yard per catch. He had six touchdowns. In the 1960 American Football League Championship Game, he caught four passes for 71 yards as the Oilers prevailed 24-16 to win the inaugural AFL title over the Los Angeles Chargers. After a promising rookie season, in 1961, he started all 14 games and established himself as a superstar in the AFL by gaining 1,746 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns, the former being a pro football record that stood for 34 years. In October alone, he had 822 receiving yards, the most in a single calendar month. One of quarterback George Blanda’s main targets, Hennigan was the second professional football player to catch more than a hundred passes in a single season (101 in 1964, an AFL record) and to twice gain over 1,500 yards receiving (1961 and 1964). He holds the all-time records for most games in a season with over 200 yards receiving with three, and most games in a season with over 100 yards receiving with 11. Hennigan had the All-time AFL single game record of 272 yards receiving, against the Boston Patriots on October 13, 1961. The 13 passes caught in the game is tied for the most ever in the AFL, shared with Lance Alworth, Lionel Taylor, and Sid Blanks. In the 1961 American Football League Championship Game, he had five catches for 43 yards as the Oilers prevailed for their second and final AFL title.

On January 19, 1962, Minden observed "Charlie Hennigan" Day. Then State Senator Harold Montgomery, State Representative, Parey Branton, Mayor Frank T. Norman, and other local officials presented Hennigan with a signed document of his accomplishments. A luncheon and evening meal were served in his honor.[5] The event was postponed because of hazardous weather the previous week.[6] That year, he had 54 catches for 867 yards with eight touchdowns. In the AFL title game, he had three catches for 37 yards, but the Oilers lost in double overtime to the Dallas Texans.

Hennigan was selected by his peers as a Sporting News AFL All-League offensive end in 1961, 1962, and 1964. He was an American Football League Eastern Division All-Star five straight years (1961 - 1965), and retired after the 1966 season. He was selected to the All-Time All-AFL Second Team.

Over four decades later, Blanda recounted a story about Hennigan in the 2009 series Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League. He noted that Willie Brown had been signed by the Oilers in 1963 before being cut during training camp because he couldn't cover Hennigan, which led to the Denver Broncos picking him up. He stated that "The next year we played Denver, and Charley needed nine catches to break Lionel Taylor's record of one hundred receptions in a season. Charlie got the nine he needed, with Willie covering him. Willie's in the Hall of Fame. Charlie Hennigan should be, too."

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Hennigan to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2014 [7]

Later years

In 1967, Hennigan received his doctorate in education from the University of Houston.[8] Hennigan operated an educational tutoring service in Shreveport and worked with prisoners seeking the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Hennigan had seven children, the oldest being Charles, Jr., who was born in Natchitoches in 1957.

He was named to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1978. [9]

On April 6, 2002, Hennigan, then a Democrat but a registered Independent as of 2014,[10] ran in a special election for Place 8 on the Caddo Parish Commission, his parish's governing body. He was defeated by Republican Michael Long, 2,139 votes (74.9 percent) to 716 ballots (25.1 percent).

On December 20, 2017, Hennigan passed away at the age of 82. [11]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Former Oilers Great Charlie Hennigan Passes Away". Tennessee Titans. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  2. ^ a b "Clarence Roland Hennigan". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  3. ^ Teri Herren (February 5, 1986). "Deputy C. R. Hennigan: 80-years young and still upholding the law". Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "Lura Hennigan: Sacrifice of Thanksgiving", Minden Press-Herald, November 16, 1984, p. 5
  5. ^ "Hero's Welcome Given Local Pro Grid Athlete", Minden Press, January 22, 1962, p. 1
  6. ^ "Second Attempt Set for Charlie Hennigan Day", Minden Herald, January 18, 1962, p. 1
  7. ^ "Professional Researchers Association Hall of Very Good Class of 2014". Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  8. ^ "Charles Henningan to Get Doctor's Degree", Minden Press-Herald, June 2, 1967
  9. ^ https://nsudemons.com/news/2017/12/21/demon-football-demon-legend-charlie-hennigan-among-nfls-all-time-receiving-greats-dead-at-82.aspx
  10. ^ "Charles Hennigan, March 1935". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 12, 2014. [permanent dead link]
  11. ^ https://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/texans/article/Oilers-great-Charlie-Hennigan-passes-away-12447887.php

External links

  • https://web.archive.org/web/20060516141945/http://www.caddoclerk.com/results_040602.htm
  • Hennigan's first AFL contract
Records
Preceded by
Elroy Hirsch
NFL single-season receiving record
1961–1995
Succeeded by
Jerry Rice
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