Mack Brown Talks Shop With The Oldest Living UT Football Player

The past, present, and future of Longhorn football came together Wednesday as Coach Mack Brown met the oldest living UT player for the first time.

The coach talked ’30s gridiron with 98-year-old John Henderson, BS ’36 — a “leatherhead” from the time before hard helmets — and spoke candidly about the past couple seasons and the one ahead.

Brown brought his wife, Sally, to the event at Longhorn Village (where the retirement community’s Texas Exes chapter was holding its March 2 celebration). The two marveled at John Henderson’s 71-year marriage to his wife, Charlotte, BS ’37. The Hendersons met in class at UT in 1934.

“When did you make the decision to stick with him — about 40 years in?” Brown asked jokingly.

“He’s been a good fellow all along,” Charlotte Henderson replied, smiling.

A shared love of sports is one of the secrets to their successful union, John Henderson said. He and his wife still radiate enthusiasm and share excellent health. They have been season-ticket holders for 60 years, and now they take a charter bus to every home game from Longhorn Village, where they live.

Before Wednesday, Henderson had met with seven of the eight coaches who had led the Longhorns in the 76 years since he graduated: Dana Bible, Blair Cherry, Ed Price, Darrell Royal, Fred Akers, David McWilliams, and John Mackovic. Finally meeting Brown, he told the TV cameras, was a thrill.

Longhorn football has changed over the decades since Henderson played. Not only did they not have TV, they didn’t even have radio broadcasts of the games when he joined the team. “One thing I regret is that we didn’t have motion pictures,” he said. “If we’d have had motion pictures, we could’ve improved our technique so much.”

Today’s players are accustomed to having their every move recorded, Brown said, adding, “We have a saying: the big eye in the sky don’t lie.”

Over lunch with the rest of the residents of Longhorn Village, Brown discussed recent football — the glories and the disappointments alike. Longhorn legend Stonie Clark — who prevented Oklahoma from winning the Red River Rivalry in 1994 by stopping the Sooners at the 1-yard line on fourth down — moderated the Q&A. Clark now heads surveillance at Longhorn Village by night while launching his own business, Stonie’s Teacakes, by day.

On the disappointments side, Brown admitted to “pouting” after the 2009-10 national championship loss, saying he hadn’t even wanted to leave the house for awhile.

The following season, he said, he didn’t do things with the “same edge.”

Now — with a raft of young new assistant coaches around him and a four-man competition going for the quarterback position — Brown said he is excited about starting over. He wears a “Brick by Brick” wristband to remind him to rebuild the foundation.

But meeting Henderson reminded Brown of what is important — not just winning, but also being happy. “What a remarkable man,” Brown said. “I think it’s a message to all of us that success is happiness.”

Photos by Jim Sigmon/UT Athletics



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