Charlie Hennigan

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Charlie Hennigan
No. 37, 87
Position: Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1935-03-19) March 19, 1935 (age 82)
Place of birth: Bienville, Louisiana
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 187 lb (85 kg)
Career information
High school: Minden (LA)
College: Northwestern State
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Receptions: 410
Receiving yards: 6,823
Touchdowns: 51
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Charles Taylor Hennigan, Sr., known as Charlie Hennigan (born March 19, 1935), is a retired American football player with the former Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL).


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),[1] 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."[2]

His mother, Lura E. Hennigan (1916–1997),[1] 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.[3]

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

Football career[edit]

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. 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, 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. Hennigan still holds the record for most receiving yards in a single calendar month, with 822, set in October 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 Charlie 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 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."

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.[4] The event was postponed because of hazardous weather the previous week.[5]

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Hennigan to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2014 [6]

Later years[edit]

In 1967, Hennigan received his doctorate in education from the University of Houston.[7] 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,[8] 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).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Clarence Roland Hennigan". Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  2. ^ Teri Herren (February 5, 1986). "Deputy C. R. Hennigan: 80-years young and still upholding the law". Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved September 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Lura Hennigan: Sacrifice of Thanksgiving", Minden Press-Herald, November 16, 1984, p. 5
  4. ^ "Hero's Welcome Given Local Pro Grid Athlete", Minden Press, January 22, 1962, p. 1
  5. ^ "Second Attempt Set for Charlie Hennigan Day", Minden Herald, January 18, 1962, p. 1
  6. ^ "Professional Researchers Association Hall of Very Good Class of 2014". Retrieved November 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Charles Henningan to Get Doctor's Degree", Minden Press-Herald, June 2, 1967
  8. ^ "Charles Hennigan, March 1935". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved September 12, 2014. [permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Elroy Hirsch
NFL single-season receiving record
Succeeded by
Jerry Rice