Hamilton Tiger Cats

Garney Henley - Flanker/Defensive Back - 1973-79 - USC

    Defence       Receiving       Punt Return    
Yr Team Int Yds Avg TD Lg C Yds Avg Lg TD No Yds Avg Lg TD
1960 Ham 0 0 0.0 0 0 9 306 34.0 27 3 1 0 0.0 0 0
1961 Ham 3 44 14.7 0 38 9 114 12.7 0 0 31 188 6.1 20 0
1962 Ham 0 0 0.0 0 0 37 730 19.7 87 10 18 157 8.7 43 0
1963 Ham 6 161 26.8 0 60 20 294 14.7 46 4 28 295 10.5 55 0
1964 Ham 6 85 14.2 1 43 7 138 19.7 51 2 0 0 0.0 0 0
1965 Ham 5 75 15.0 2 27 1 -5 -5.0 0 0 67 557 8.3 54 0
1966 Ham 6 78 13.0 0 25 2 16 8.0 13 0 83 438 5.3 30 0
1967 Ham 4 20 5.0 0 8 5 213 42.6 92 1 8 80 10.0 27 0
1968 Ham 6 147 24.5 1 65 2 50 25.0 46 0 35 294 8.4 24 0
1969 Ham 2 0 0.0 0 0 9 166 18.4 33 1 18 191 10.6 44 0
1970 Ham 10 139 13.9 0 72 3 34 11.3 18 0 13 56 4.3 28 0
1971 Ham 7 116 16.6 1 29 1 9 9.0 9 0 11 171 15.5 33 0
1972 Ham 0 0 0.0 0 0 36 881 24.5 76 7 4 32 8.0 12 0
1973 Ham 0 0 0.0 0 0 40 639 16.0 68 8 5 41 8.2 18 0
1974 Ham 0 0 0.0 0 0 41 714 17.4 46 4 0 0 0.0 0 0
1975 Ham 4 51 12.8 0 36 21 358 17 45 2 6 96 16.0 50 0
Total 16 59 916 10.7 5 72 243 4,657 19.2 96 42 327 2,596 7.9 55 0

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Retro Profile - Alan Christie - Special to CFL.ca

There’s an old story about Jim Trimble, the late coach of the Hamilton Ticats, gazing upon Garney Henley for the first time after he arrived for a workout in September, 1960 and mistaking the slender young man for the water boy.

It’s not true, though thousands of Henley hero worshippers believed it for years.

But Henley, in an interview with CFL.ca, says it is true that Trimble, the gruff task master of the Cats, told assistant coach Ralph Sazio to let Henley work out and then send him home – back to South Dakota.

But something happened as Henley worked out as a defensive half back – nobody caught any passes, not even Paul Dekker, the Cats’ fabulous tight end. Sazio told Trimble that they better keep the kid. 

Henley did stay – 16 years. Won four Grey Cups.  Nine consecutive seasons as a Canadian all-star defensive back. The most outstanding player in the league in 1972.

Back in 1960, Henley actually started his career with the Cats mid way through the season.   He said he was traded by the Green Bay Packers to Hamilton.   The Packers had drafted him ninth out of Huron University.  He was also a draft pick of the New York Titans of the old American Football League.

Even if he wasn’t mistaken for the water boy, he did look like one, or perhaps a librarian, wearing glasses off the field.  He said back then he weighed 175-180 pounds, slightly under six feet tall.   Henley, now 73, may have been slight but he was still one of the best open-field tacklers in CFL history.

And he did it normally without using his hands.  After catching a pass, opposition players simply had their feet taken out from under them when Henley cut them down by flinging his body just at their shoe tops.  “I learned early that it was the best way to stop guys,” he said.

And despite his small frame, Henley did something virtually unheard of in professional football today.   He played both offence and defence for Hamilton.

He was primarily a defensive halfback, but Cats’ fans always took notice when he was sent out to play wide receiver (called flanker 40 years ago).   Henley on the field usually meant the Ticats needed a big first down or were behind in the game, and putting him in meant a comeback.

In 1962, he even rushed the ball 50 times for 258 yards. And, he returned punts, 370 of them for 2,940 yards.   This in an era when no blocking was allowed on punt returns.

Henley never played high school football, just basketball, but when he got to college in South Dakota he was so fast and athletic that he made the transition easily, becoming a junior All-American (as well as being on the Dean’s List as an academic scholar).

His athleticism helped lead the Ticats to seven Grey Cup appearances.

When asked about a favourite memory in his 16-year career, Henley said it was the 1962 “Fog Bowl” that had to be played over two days in Toronto when fog rolled in at Exhibition Stadium. 

“I never got off the field,” Henley said.   He caught two touchdown passes and had an interception.   But the Cats lost 28-27 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.   Henley was quoted after game as saying, “you could see the players, but only the bottom half.”

In his first season as a Cat in 1960, Henley was paid $6,500.   Doesn’t sound like much, but he pointed out that Tom Moore, who was the number one draft pick in the NFL that year, got $10,000 from the Baltimore Colts. And the Canadian dollar was worth more than the American buck back then.

A year later Henley got a raise to $12,500, plus bonuses.

In the 1960s, most players had second jobs. Henley said for the first three years he had “army obligations” back in South Dakota, meaning he had to report there every six months. But after that he lived full-time in Canada, and raised four kids (three born in this country).   He is now a grandfather of nine.

Even in 1975, his final years, he played both ways, catching 31 passes and intercepting four more.

After his playing days ended, he became a coach and administrator at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Brock University and the University of Guelph. In 1995-96 he was director of football operations for the Ottawa Rough Riders.

In 1979 he was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004. He was named the sixth greatest CFL player in a TSN poll in 2006.

Today, in his small town in South Dakota, he doesn’t get to see any CFL games on television, but he does make it back to Hamilton once and a while.

But Henley still has a Canadian connection. Three years after he retired from football he took a job with the Canadian Pacific Railway, driving conductors so they can meet their trains.

“I sat around for three years, but I got bored,” he said.

Luckily, it was never boring for Ticat fans in the 16 years he played in Hamilton.

 

For information on obtaining this historical CFL Image visit:

http://scottgrant.photoshelter.com/