/A Crescent City institution Longtime voice of the Saints is retiring

A Crescent City institution Longtime voice of the Saints is retiring

Manning says, “Jim was always there for me when I needed him.” Although I can’t imagine how you could have an awful day with Jim, who is such a good guy, and such a consummate pro, it’s not to say Henderson or Manning didn’t have some near misses. Their first game together was Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons. Manning says, “We were going on the bus with the team to the stadium. Jim wanted to go down to the buses and review some details about the broadcast. We got down to the bus stop and started talking. Then it hit them: nobody else had ever boarded the bus. They looked ahead to see that all other buses had gone. Manning says, “We had no choice but to rush and get a taxi. Although we didn’t miss kickoff, we were not early. It was my first game.” Then there was Seattle. Manning said that Henderson and she used to go running together before the game. So we start running, and soon we are out of the city, in a residential area. Then there is some farm land and I saw this beautiful pasture. Jim said, “Let’s run across the pasture out there,” and so they set off, the ex-NFL star and his radio announcer buddy. Manning said that they were enjoying the scenery and that runners’ high. But then, Manning added, “We reached about half-way and saw this bull.” He saw us. Then he began running at us. The jog turned into a sprint. We ran for our lives. “We had to climb over a fence in order to escape.” Henderson, a New Yorker and former teacher of English at junior high, announced Thursday that he would be retiring from broadcasting. New Orleans and Saints have lost a major institution. Henderson spoke to Saints listeners in an articulate, knowledgeable and easy-to-understand manner, regardless of whether his sidekicks were Archie Manning or the late Hokie Gajan or most recently Deuce McAllister. He is a pro. He is at the top his game and is retiring. It will be like Jack Cristil replacing Henderson at Mississippi State when Henderson is replaced with the Saints. It will be difficult to get used to. Henderson, an English major at State University of New York was teaching ninth and eighth grade English in Panama City when he saw a job as a weekend anchor at a Panama City TV Station. He applied and was hired. Henderson jokes that he knew it was time for him to stop teaching English as he was about to teach “Great Expectations” for the third year. He quickly rose up the TV ladder from Panama City to an Atlanta weekend job to the New Orleans weeknight anchor position. It took him two years to move up the TV ladder from Panama City to Atlanta, then to New Orleans as a weeknight anchor. He eventually moved on and became a network operator in a larger market. Manning stated that Jim had many opportunities to move on. A funny thing happened in New Orleans. Henderson fell in love the city where he had led the market’s nightly sportscasts for over 30 years. He also enjoyed Saints broadcasts through the Manning years and then Gajan (who became a brother) as well as McAllister. Henderson was perhaps best matched by Gajan, a Cajun folklore from the Louisiana bayous. Hokie was called for three blocks in back by the Saints on kickoffs. You can read their names on the jerseys. Don’t hit them! Many people wondered what Henderson’s future would look like after Gajan’s battle with cancer. But Henderson and McAllister quickly bonded. McAllister says, “Jim made it really, really easy.” It is so easy to hear his voice, and it makes you feel at ease. His words paint such a clear picture. He paints such a clear picture.