New Orleans Saints Legends of the Fall: Henry Childs
Henry Childs was a throwback to a different time. Different not only in terms of this organization, and the success it has recently enjoyed, but different also in terms of the very league that it played in. But I can tell you, as someone who can remember watching Henry Childs play, the fact that he isn’t a household name in many more households in this state is both sad and unfortunate.
Yeah, Childs was actually that good.
Henry Childs entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons out of Kansas State in 1974, but before that season was over, he would find his way into the Saints organization. Slowly but steadily, his statistical contributions to the Saints would grow from 1975-78 as he would begin to be used as an integral part of the Saints offense for quarterback Archie Manning.
(Photo: Getty Images)
As Manning returned from a season-long shoulder injury in 1977, Childs would have a breakout season in which the tight end would have 33 catches for 518 yards, for a 15.7 average, with nine touchdowns. That was good enough for third in the NFL, and was a Saints record that was not tied until 2001, and wasn’t broken until 2003.
The following year, in 1978, Childs would post career highs in both catches (53), and yardage (869 yards), and added four touchdowns. He would lead not only the team, but all tight ends in the league, and rank ninth overall, on his way to being selected to the UPI All NFC team.
In 1979, Childs’ momentum carried over to the Saints team, as for the first time in franchise history, the team finished with a .500 (8-8) record, and narrowly missed the playoffs. Childs would be rewarded with his only Pro Bowl selection of his nine-year career in 1979.
He would play one more season as a Saint, in 1980, and would tie for the team lead with six touchdowns.
Childs would ultimately play one season for the Rams, in 1981, before his final campaign in 1984 for the Green Bay Packers.
Henry Childs would be selected to the Saints Hall of Fame in 1994.
(Photo via ESPN.com)
On Friday, June 3, 2016, Childs passed away in his native Thomasville, Georgia, at the age of 65. The entire organization, as well as countless fans, mourn the passing of one of the best tight ends and players to ever come through this franchise.
Saints’ owner Tom Benson memorialized him this way:
“Henry Childs was a key contributor during his seven years with us, and was one of the top tight ends in our franchise’s history. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones from our whole organization during this difficult time.”
For most new Saints fans, the position of tight end conjures up images of Jeremy Shockey at the end of his career, the emergence of Jimmy Graham, and the breakout season of longtime role-player Ben Watson.
But there was a different time. There was a time when another New Orleans Saints TE was blazing a trail through the NFL. It was a time when Archie Manning was a little bit more than “just” Peyton and Eli’s dad. And Henry Childs was that tight end’s name.
And now, 30+ years after his playing days in the Crescent City, Henry Childs still ranks in the top ten for this franchise in catches, receiving yardage, and receiving touchdowns.
Yessir…he was just that good.