Pete Henry

Pete Henry
Chest-up black and white photograph of Henry facing the camera
Position: Tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1897-10-31)October 31, 1897
Place of birth: Mansfield, Ohio
Date of death: February 7, 1952(1952-02-07) (aged 54)
Place of death: Washington, Pennsylvania
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school: Mansfield (OH)
College: Washington & Jefferson
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Head coaching record
Regular season: 3–17–3 (.196)
Player stats at PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Wilbur Francis "Pete" Henry (October 31, 1897 – February 7, 1952) was an American professional football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He later worked for more than 20 years as athletic director and occasional football coach at Washington & Jefferson College, his alma mater.

Early life

Henry attended Washington & Jefferson College, where he played for the Washington & Jefferson Presidents football team. He was recognized as a first-term All-American at tackle in 1917, and a consensus All-American in 1918 and 1919.[1][2][3][4] In 1919, the reigning national champion Pittsburgh Panthers argued that Henry was an ineligible college player and refused to play against him.[1] A gentleman's agreement among all college teams generally allowed players, like Henry, whose 1918 seasons were cut short by mandatory training for World War I to play.[1] In fact, Pitt played several other teams with similarly situated players on several teams without complaint.[1] The Panthers' stand caused an outcry among the local press and the Pitt alumni, but Henry agreed to sit out the game.[1] In the end, Pitt won the game 7–6. In his later years, Henry was not one to keep souvenirs, but he did keep the program from that game.[1]

Professional football career

Henry's small charm made from anthracite coal given to members of the 1928 Pottsville Maroons

Henry signed with the Canton Bulldogs on September 17, 1920. During the 1922 season while playing primarily offensive tackle with Canton, Henry, playing alongside Link Lyman and Guy Chamberlin, helped make Canton the first true powerhouse team of professional football, with a 10–0–2 record.

Despite his size and abilities at blocking, Henry was also considered one of the greatest kickers of his era. Statistics for kicks were imprecise at best during that time, however one accurate statistic was that of a 45-yard drop kick field goal kicked by Henry on December 10, 1922. He set a professional football record with that kick that stood for twelve years. Many claimed that both Jim Thorpe and Paddy Driscoll had beaten that record, both supposedly drop-kicking field goals at 50 yards. Driscoll was alleged to have kicked two from 50 yards in one game on September 28, 1924. However, these claims could not be supported by any verifiable records. Henry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

In 1931, Henry was hired as the athletic director (AD) for Washington & Jefferson College, a position he held until his death in 1952.[1] As the college and football team struggled during World War II, he served as coach in 1942 and 1945.[1] As AD, he wanted every student to participate in some form of athletics and required every student to know how to swim.[1] He personally raised substantial funds for the Gambolier Fund to pay for scholarships.[1] He continued to work, even after losing a leg to diabetes.[1]

Henry was inducted into the Dapper Dan Club's Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame in 1967. He is also enshrined in the Helms Sports Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.[5]

Upon his death, Henry was eulogized in W&J's college newspaper, the Red & Black, as "capturing the very spirit of Wash Jeff and, for many people was the College."[6]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 E. Lee, North (1991). "Chapter 6: Who Scared Pitt?". Battling the Indians, Panthers, and Nittany Lions: The Story of Washington & Jefferson College's First Century of Football, 1890-1990. Daring Books. pp. 75–83. ISBN 978-1-878302-03-8. OCLC 24174022.
  2. "Pete Henry". Sports Reference LLC.
  3. "Pete Henry".
  4. "Pete Henry". NFL All-Time Players. NFL Enterprises LLC.
  5. Abrams, Al (January 23, 1967). "Monday morning's sports wash". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 26. Retrieved January 19, 2012.
  6. Scarborough, David Knowles (1979). "Intercollegiate Athletics at Washington and Jefferson College: the Building of a Tradition". Ph.D Dissertation. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh: 73.
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