Monday, December 21, 2009
Canadian Football League All-Star Garney Henley was born on this day in 1937 in Elgin, North Dakota. To this day, Henley is considered one of the CFL’s greatest players, where he had an amazing career with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. His life is documented in the biography, Garney Henley: A Gentleman and a Tiger, by Robert Nielson.
Although born in Elgin, Henley’s family soon moved to Hayti, South Dakota, where Henley attended high school. He was an all-around athlete, excelling in track, basketball, and football. He played four straight Class B basketball tournaments with the Hayti Redbirds, winning the state title in 1954. After high school, he began attending Huron College, where he continued to excel in all three sports. In track, he won four events at Intercollegiate Conference meets in 1959 and 1960. And although named an All-State Intercollegiate Conference basketball player, his best sport continued to be football. He led Huron College through twenty-eight straight victories as a running back, rushing more than 4,000 yards and “…scoring an all-college record of 394 points.”
As a Dean’s List honor’s student, he somehow managed to balance athletics and school. After graduating in 1960, Henley was drafted by the Green Bay Packers to play in the NFL. He attended a brief tryout with the Packers, but chose to join the Canadian Football League under the Hamilton Tiger Cats instead. While playing defensive back for the Tiger Cats, Henley was named a CFL All-Star for ten consecutive years. In 1972, his position was changed to flanker to take advantage of his speed. At the age of thirty-six, Henley won the CFL’s Most Valuable Player award that year.
After a sixteen-year career with the CFL, he was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1979. His career is still considered legendary, and by professional football standards the length of his career alone would garnish attention. His records and honors, however, attest to his amazing ability on the field. In 2004, at the age of sixty-seven, Henley was inducted into the U. S. College Football Hall of Fame.
Dakota Datebook writtem by Jayme L. Job