Joe Horn - Wide Receiver - 1995 - Itawamba Junior College
Joe Horn grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. “My childhood was kind of rough,” he says. His mother was the only parent of seven children, and struggled to keep the family afloat. “My eighth grade year was hell for me,” he says, “My mom, she had left, and I was staying with my grandmother. Me and my brothers, and every other family member were staying there. We were trying to stay in one house and struggled and fought trying to make it through.” He turned to sports in high school and excelled on the football field. “That’s when I found out how athletic I was and how good I was.”
Horn eventually made his way down south, attending Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, NC, although he was a standout performer at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, he was only voted to the Mid South 4A All Star team as a punter. He also ran the 100 meters in 10.39 for the track team and lettered in basketball.
Poor SAT scores prevented him from fulfilling his intention to play for the University of South Carolina, forcing Horn to play two years at Itawamba Junior College in
Fulton, Mississippi. After marginal success at Itawamba, Horn returned to Fayetteville to work at a Bojangles restaurant with his mom. As the story goes, Horn had six dollars to his name and splurged for the Jerry Rice workout video, retailing for $3.99 at the local Blockbuster. He proceeded to make a highlight film of his workouts, complete with colorful music, and sent copies to various teams. Memphis Mad Dogs coach, Pepper Rodgers, got the tape and offered Horn a contract. Horn led the Mad Dogs in receptions (71) and receiving yards (1,414) and five touchdowns in the team’s one year existence in the Canadian Football League in 1995 in what was a failed attempt of the CFL to broaden market share in the United States.
The 6-1, 213 pound receiver made enough of an impression in his one year in the CFL to move the Kansas City Chiefs to take a chance on him in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Horn toiled in relative obscurity as a reserve receiver and special teams player in the majority of his four seasons in Kansas City, but got a chance in his fourth year to showcase his skills as a receiver in the final year of his contract with 35 receptions for 586 yards (16.7 avg.) and six touchdowns.
The Saints, in need of a No.1 wide receiver, signed Horn to a three year deal and he was an instant success right out of the gate, turning in the finest single season performance in Saints history with 94 receptions (fourth overall in the NFC) for 1,340 yards (fifth in the NFC) and eight touchdowns (second most receiving touchdowns in team history for a single season). In the next five seasons he would prove to all doubters that he belonged with the elite receivers in the NFL, earning four Pro Bowl selections (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004).
Joe Horn had gone on to become one of the elite receivers in the National Football League and arguably the greatest Saints receiver in franchise history. The player Horn has become is definitely a testament to his perseverance and ability along with a helping hand from the Canadian Football League.