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University of Missouri

Remembering the Jet

A J‐School alumnus honors the late John “The Jet” Henley.

One of the University of Missouri’s great wide receivers, John “The Jet” Henley, BA ’72, died Aug. 24, 2014, at his San Bernardino, California, home at age 65. He had been battling liver cancer for two years. I met Jet when I was playing freshman football at Mizzou, and we were roommates my sophomore year. We became best friends and stayed in touch for the past 45 years.

John “the Jet” Henley

John “the Jet” Henley nabbed receptions and headlines during his days as a Mizzou wide receiver. Photo by Keith McMillin.

Jet had a stellar gridiron career at Mizzou, which included All‐Big Eight and All‐American honors, and the school record for receptions. Don Shula and the Miami Dolphins wanted to sign him in 1972, but Jet made the decision to pursue a law career instead.

Little did Mizzou Athletics know that during Jet’s MU football career he was burning up the pitch at Reactor Field under the alias David Mojack, a winger for the Tigers rugby team. Football players were strictly forbidden to play rugby, but during the football offseason, Jet ran amuck scoring “tries” and blowing past would‐be tacklers. It was there Sterling Hayden, M Ed ’68, EdD ’73, Mizzou rugby player and coach, recruited the two of us to play for the St. Louis Bombers rugby squad.

Jet and I were guest players on the famous (or infamous) Bomber tour to Charlottesville, Virginia, where we played in the Commonwealth Cup Tournament. The tourney featured the elite teams in the U.S., United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. With a 100‐yard‐sprint speed of 9.3 and the ability to hit like a linebacker, Henley complemented the Bomber black team’s size and toughness. The Bombers didn’t win the tournament, but we left a huge impression on the Eastern Rugby Union on and off the field.

John the Jet Henley

Henley, upper‐left, played for the Mizzou club rugby team. Photo from the Columbia Missourian.

During that wild East Coast tour, we forged tall tales. One such story involved Jet and I “dining and dashing” from a McDonald’s with 100 hamburgers and fries for a “free” team dinner. Another included the tour bus being pulled over in Indiana, where a Bomber was accused of throwing a full beer can out the window and hitting a “Hoosier” in a pickup. The highway patrol arrested the bus driver, stranding the team on the side of the road.

The Jet went on to star on a successful rugby team in California while succeeding as an attorney. He was proud of his rugby pedigree to his dying day, often wearing his Bomber jersey or Mizzou rugby T‐shirt. God bless John “The Jet” Henley. They don’t make them like that any more. A star Mizzou football player and rugger for life and beyond!