The last time the Dallas Cowboys contended for a Super Bowl title, the headlines always featured the offense with future Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith. Those Cowboys defenses, however, were a big part of the team’s success, and one of the main reasons was defensive lineman Chad Hennings. The Air Force veteran pilot played a significant role in the team winning three Super Bowls before he retired in 2000. Where is Chad Hennings today?
The Air Force pilot
Before Hennings became a well-known name with America’s Team, he was making a name for himself in college at the Air Force Academy. In 1987, Hennings exploded on to the national stage leading the nation with 24 sacks.
That season he was a unanimous first-team All-America selection and won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top interior lineman. During his time at the Academy, he was a two-time first-team all-conference selection, and a member of the Western Athletic Conference all-time team. He was also named WAC defensive player of the decade for the 1980s.
Hennings also excelled in the classroom as he was named a two-time first-team academic All-American and earned academic All-WAC honors three times. Upon graduation in 1988, the Cowboys selected the Air Force defensive star in the 11th round of the NFL Draft. Instead of joining the team, Hennings headed off to serve his country, including a time in the first Gulf War where he completed 45 successful combat missions flying A10 jets.
From American hero to Cowboys hero
Those first two seasons in Dallas, including the 1993 Super Bowl champion run, Hennings saw limited action. That all changed in 1994 when Hennings burst on to the scene playing in all 16 regular-season games recording seven sacks with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In 1995, Hennings totaled 5.5 sacks, registered 42 tackles, and was part of a stout defensive unit that finished ranked third in the NFL and included Charles Haley, Leon Lett, Robert Jones, and Darren Woodson. That defense, along with the trio of Aikman, Irvin, and Smith combined to guide the Jimmy Johnson-coached Cowboys to the Super Bowl and a 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While the Cowboys level of success dropped off in the seasons that followed, Hennings numbers did not. The 6-foot-6-inch lineman provided a steady presence for the Dallas defensive line starting in all but five games over the next four seasons.
In 2000, after nine seasons in the league, Hennings retired.
Where is Chad Hennings today?
Today, Hennings speaks to businesses with a focus on being excellent. According to his website, “Excellence isn’t a destination; it’s an identity.”
Hennings, who lives in Flower Mound, Texas with his wife and kids, has delivered his message around the world to executives at companies including American Airlines, Bank of America, General Motors, Citigroup, as well as numerous U.S. governmental agencies.
In his speeches, Hennings challenges audiences to dare to be excellent and inspires businesses to create cultures of excellence.
“People and organizations don’t do great things to become great; great people and organizations do great things.”
He has also been a philanthropic leader in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area as a member of the board of directors of Christian Community Action, an organization that assists at-risk families.
Serving others and making a difference in their lives. It’s exactly what you would expect from an Air Force veteran who served his country.