March 19, 1935 |
Bienville, Louisiana, USA
|College||Northwestern State University|
|AFL Draft||1960 / Round : First selection|
|TSN All-AFL||1961, 1962, 1963, 1964|
|AFL All-Star||1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965|
|Honors||American Football League
Champion, 1960 and 1961
First player with more than
100 rcpts/season (101, 1964)
|Records||Held season receiving yardage
title (1,746 yards)
|1960-1966||AFL Houston Oilers|
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), 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 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."
His mother, Lura E. Hennigan (1916–1997), 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.
Minden, a small city, produced other successful athletes too, including David Allen Lee, the punter for the Baltimore Colts from 1966–1978, and Fred Haynes, the holder of many football records as the quarterback at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge during the late 1960s and the second of four sons of Sheriff O. H. Haynes, Jr.
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 athletes.
Hennigan scored the first touchdown in Oilers history. 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, a pro-football record that stood for 34 years. 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) 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.
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.
Hall of Famer Willie Brown was originally signed by the Oilers in 1963, but was cut during training camp. On the 2009 Showtime series Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League, George Blanda tells this story: "Willie couldn't cover Charley Hennigan in practice, so he was let go, and the Broncos picked him up. The next year we played Denver, and Charley needed nine catches to break Lionel Taylor's record of 100 receptions in a season. Charley got the nine he needed, with Willie covering him. Willie's in the Hall of Fame. Charley Hennigan should be, too."
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.
In 1967, Hennigan received his doctorate in education from the University of Houston. Hennigan operates an educational tutoring service in Shreveport and works with prisoners seeking the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Hennigan has seven children, the oldest being Charles, Jr., who was born in Natchitoches in 1957.
On April 6, 2002, Hennigan, then a Democrat but a registered Independent as of 2014, 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).
- "Clarence Roland Hennigan". findagrave.com. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- Teri Herren. "Deputy C. R. Hennigan: 80-years young and still upholding the law". Minden Press-Heralddate=February 5, 1986. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- "Lura Hennigan: Sacrifice of Thanksgiving", Minden Press-Herald, November 16, 1984, p. 5
- "Hero's Welcome Given Local Pro Grid Athlete", Minden Press, January 22, 1962, p. 1
- "Charles Henningan to Get Doctor's Degree", Minden Press-Herald, June 2, 1967
- "Charles Hennigan, March 1935". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
- Campaign to get Hennigan inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Hennigan's first AFL contract
|NFL single-season receiving record