Chris Henry
No. 15     
Wide receiver
Personal information
Date of birth: (1983-05-17)May 17, 1983
Place of birth: Belle Chasse, Louisiana
Date of death: December 17, 2009(2009-12-17) (aged 26)
Place of death: Charlotte, North Carolina
Height: 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
College: West Virginia
NFL Draft: 2005 / Round: 3 / Pick: 83
Debuted in 2005 for the Cincinnati Bengals
Last played in 2009 for the Cincinnati Bengals
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Small Schools Offensive Player of the Year (2001)
  • Metro Offensive MVP (2001)
Career NFL statistics as of 2009
Receptions     119
Receiving yards     1,826
Receiving TDs     21
Stats at

Chris Henry (May 17, 1983 – December 17, 2009) was an American football wide receiver who played five seasons in the National Football League for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football at West Virginia and was drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.

Early yearsEdit

Henry was born to Carolyn Lee and David Henry in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. He attended Belle Chasse High School where he was named New Orleans small schools offensive player of the year during his senior year. During that season the Fighting Cardinals made it to the Louisiana AAA State championship game, which was played at the Louisiana Superdome. Henry also excelled in basketball and track.

College careerEdit

Henry enrolled at West Virginia University in 2002, spending his first season as a redshirt. In 2003, he earned Big East Conference freshman of the year and All-Big East second-team honors for catching 41 passes and gaining 1,006 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. He also became the second player in school history to record over 1,000 receiving yards in one season (behind David Saunders), and his 24.5 yards per reception are the third most in a season in school history.[1][2] Henry's best game was a career-high performance of 209 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse. His career-long reception came against Rutgers that season, an 83-yard reception.

In 2004, Henry started seven games and caught 52 passes for 872 yards with 12 touchdowns. After catching three passes in a 30–18 loss to Florida State in the 2005 Gator Bowl, Henry announced that he would enter the 2005 NFL Draft.[3] Henry's 12 touchdowns ties him with Darius Reynaud for the school's single-season touchdown record.[4] while his 52 receptions are the eighth most in a season[5]

During Henry's sophomore season, he was ejected from a game at Rutgers University due to multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and was suspended for the season finale against the University of Pittsburgh. His former Mountaineers coach, Rich Rodriguez, stated that he was "an embarrassment to himself and the program" for his conduct.[6]

Henry majored in athletic coaching education.[7]


Henry was the third player in Mountaineers' history to average more than twenty yards per catch for his career.[7] Henry's 1,878 career receiving yards is eighth most in school history,[8] while his 93 receptions are the 14th most.[9] His 22 touchdown receptions are also second most in school history.[10] Henry's six career 100-yard receiving games is tied for third most in school history.[11]

Professional careerEdit

Cincinnati BengalsEdit

File:Chris Henry (2310846707).jpg

Henry was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He made his NFL debut on September 18, 2005 against the Minnesota Vikings.[7] In his rookie season with the Bengals, he amassed 31 receptions for 422 yards and six touchdowns. In the Bengals' first playoff game in fifteen years against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had a reception for 66 yards on the Bengals' second play from scrimmage. However, on the play, both he and Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer suffered knee injuries.

In his second season, Henry totaled 605 yards on 36 receptions for nine touchdowns, with an average of 16.8 yards per catch. On the second game of the season against the Cleveland Browns, Henry recorded five receptions for 113 yards, while he recorded two touchdowns the next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the season finale against the Steelers, Henry totaled 124 yards off of four receptions and scored one touchdown.

Henry was suspended for eight games in 2007 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.[12][13] He returned in week 10 against the Baltimore Ravens, where he had four receptions for 99 yards. In the following loss to Arizona, Henry totaled eight receptions for 81 yards and one touchdown. Henry finished the season with 21 receptions for 343 yards and two touchdowns.

Following his arrest in April 2008, Henry was waived by the Bengals. President Mike Brown explained that Henry had forfeited his opportunity to pursue a career with the Bengals and that his conduct could no longer be tolerated.[14]

Return to CincinnatiEdit

On April 7, 2008, ESPN radio analyst and former player Michael Irvin said he took a phone call from Henry, discussing "cleaning up his act", much like Irvin encouraged Adam "Pacman" Jones to do.[15] Henry and Jones were teammates at West Virginia, and both served NFL suspensions imposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the 2007 NFL season.

With Bengals receivers Chad Ochocinco, T. J. Houshmandzadeh, and Andre Caldwell nursing injuries during the 2008 preseason, Henry was re-signed to a two-year contract by the Bengals on August 18.[16] The move came less than a month after Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis stated the team had no interest in bringing back Henry.[17] After serving his four-game suspension to begin the 2008 season, Henry was activated from the exemption list on October 4. Running back Kenny Watson was released to make room for Henry on the roster. Henry finished the 2008 season with 19 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns. He was placed on injured reserve in November 2009, after suffering a broken forearm while making a 20-yard reception against the Baltimore Ravens.


Off-the-field problemsEdit

On December 15, 2005, Henry was pulled over in northern Kentucky for speeding. During a search, marijuana was found in his shoes. He was also driving without a valid driver's license or valid insurance.[18] He pleaded guilty and avoided a jail sentence.

One month later, on January 30, 2006 he was arrested in Orlando, Florida for multiple gun charges including concealment and aggravated assault with a firearm.[19] He was reported to have been wearing his #15 Bengals jersey at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty to this charge and avoided jail time.

On April 29, Henry allowed three underage females (ages 18, 16 and 15) to consume alcohol at a hotel in Covington, Kentucky.[20] One of the three, an 18-year-old woman, accused Henry of sexually assaulting her; she later retracted her story and was charged with filing a false police report.[21] On January 25, 2007, Henry pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of a city ordinance commonly referred to as a "keg law." He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with all but two of those days being suspended.[20]

He was pulled over on Interstate 275 in Ohio on June 3 at 1:18 A.M. by Ohio Highway Patrol trooper Michael Shimko for surmised drunk driving. He voluntarily submitted to a breathalyzer test at 2:06 A.M. at the Milford Police Department and registered a .092 blood-alcohol level, .012 above the level permitted in the state of Ohio.[22]

On October 6, he was suspended by the NFL for two games for violating the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. NFL policies forbade Henry from taking part in practices, however, he was allowed to attend any team meetings. Henry missed the Bengals' October 15, 2006 game at Tampa Bay and their October 22, 2006 home game versus Carolina.[23]

The following April, Henry was suspended for the first eight games of the 2007 NFL season for violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy.[12] His suspension on the 10th came with a stern warning that future misconduct may result in the end of his career with the NFL. Henry was given permission by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to begin practicing fully.[24] His suspension was lifted and he played in the November 11, 2007 game versus the Baltimore Ravens, amassing 4 catches for 99 yards.

Henry allegedly assaulted a valet attendant at Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky on November 6, 2007.[25] He was arrested for a second time in Orlando on December 3 for violating his probation he was on from a January 30, 2006 arrest. On February 21, 2008, he was found not guilty.

On March 31, 2008, Henry punched a man named Gregory Meyer, 18, and threw a beer bottle through the window of his car. Henry claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and also that he thought it was somebody else that owed him money.[26] Henry was waived by the Bengals a day after this arrest and was then served a house arrest sentence.


On December 16, 2009, Henry was involved in a car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he sustained grave injuries. Charlotte police stated that Henry fell out of the back of a moving truck driven by his fiancee, Loleini Tonga, while they were engaged in a domestic dispute.[27][28] Tonga has three children by Henry.[29] On December 17, 2009, Charlotte police announced that Henry had died at 6:36 a.m. ET at Carolinas Medical Center. Two days later, on December 19, police confirmed that Henry died of blunt force trauma to the head. No charges were filed against his fiancee, and police announced that they found no evidence that Tonga drove recklessly or with excessive speed.[30][31][32]

To honor Henry, every game of Week 15 (December 17–21) in the NFL began with a moment of silence before kickoff.

"Our football team, what they're feeling yesterday and this morning ... they watched a guy mature as a young man and work through adversity," -Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis

On December 20, three days after Henry's death, the Bengals traveled to Qualcomm Stadium to face the San Diego Chargers. As with all the other Week 15 games, a moment of silence was held before kickoff. Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, a close friend of Henry's, openly wept during the silence. Later in the game, on his first touchdown reception, Ochocinco dropped to his knee and paid tribute to Henry in the endzone.[33]

In June 2010, the Brain Injury Research Institute of West Virginia University released a report that Henry had developed a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy during his playing career due to multiple hard hits to the head. [34] While several former NFL players had been found to have the disease after their deaths, Henry was believed to be the first still-active NFL player to have it. The discovery that Henry had CTE has become a serious issue of concern for football and brain safety, especially since Henry was relatively young and had never been diagnosed with a concussion in either his five NFL seasons or his college career at West Virginia. Concern has been raised whether an accumulation of lesser blows could eventually be enough to cause brain damage. It was also believed that the brain damage Henry suffered may have been a factor in his numerous off-the-field incidents.[35]

After his death, Henry's mother made the decision to donate his organs for transplant. Henry's corneas, lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and pancreas were transplanted, saving the lives of four people.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. WVU Career Yards Per Reception
  2. USA TODAY (2005-05-18). "USA TODAY Article Chris Henry, WR, West Virginia". USA TODAY.,Chris-WR-West%20Virginia.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
  3. West Virginia's Henry to enter NFL draft
  4. WVU Season Touchdown Receptions
  5. WVU Season Receptions
  6. Snyder, Whitney (16 December 2009). "Chris Henry CAR ACCIDENT INJURY: Bengals Receiver Suffers 'Life-Threatening' Injuries In Crash". The Huffington Post.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Profile on, Cincinnati Bengals
  8. WVU Career Receiving Yards
  9. WVU Career Receptions
  10. WVU Career Touchdown Receptions
  11. WVU Career 100-Yard Receiving Games
  12. 12.0 12.1 Bengals Receiver Dies After Accident
  13. Goodell suspends Pacman, Henry for multiple arrests
  14. Bengals release Henry
  15. Chris Henry Thinks Michael Irvin Can Help Salvage His Career – FanHouse – AOL Sports Blog[dead link]
  16.[dead link]
  17.[not in citation given]
  18. Pasquarelli, Len (2006-06-04). "Bengals' Henry arrested for third time since December". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  19.[dead link]
  20. 20.0 20.1 "NFL notes: Bengals' Henry heads to jail, may face NFL sanction". USA Today. Associated Press. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  21. "Notes: Welbourn retires; NFL meetings continue in L.A.; Plaxico speaks; Henry pleads". USA Today. Associated Press. 2006-06-16. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  22. WR Henry arrested on DUI charge. Cincinnati Enquirer
  23. NFL Suspends Bengals' Henry for 2 Games, Cincinnati Enquirer[archive verification needed]
  24. Curnutte, Mark (2007-10-25). "Henry practices with team". Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  25. Gettys, Travis (2007-11-08). "Bengals' Henry Threatened Valet Attendant, Police Say". WLWT. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  26. "Chris Henry Released From Jail". WKRC. 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  27. "Bengals' Chris Henry dead at 26". Sports Illustrated. Associated Press. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2009-12-17.[dead link]
  28. "Police confirm Bengals WR Chris Henry is dead". NBC Sports. 2009-12-17. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  29. Chris Henry Dead: Killed In Truck Incident, Domestic Dispute
  30. Wootson, Jr., Cleve; Portillo, Ely (2009-12-17). "NFL wide receiver Henry dies after Charlotte wreck". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2009-12-17.
  31. "Cincinnati Bengals' Chris Henry died of blunt-force trauma to the head". 2009-12-18.
  32. Loleini Tonga, Chris Henry's Fiancee, Will NOT Be Charged In His Death
  34. Schwarz, Alan (June 28, 2010). "Former Bengal Henry Found to Have Had Brain Damage". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  35. Chris Henry data sound football alarm, ESPN. com, Johnette Howard, June 29, 2010.
  36. Zucchino, David (November 25, 2010). "Lost life revives four others". Los Angeles Times.,0,3089522.story.

External linksEdit

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