Henry Childs, one of Saints' all-time great receivers, dies at 65

NEW ORLEANS -- Tight end Henry Childs, who still ranks as one of the New Orleans Saints' all-time great pass-catchers, died Friday night at the age of 65, the team confirmed.

Childs died of a heart attack, according to John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, Georgia.

A Pro Bowler in 1979, Childs was elected to the Saints' Hall of Fame in 1994. He had 3,224 receiving yards and 27 touchdown catches in seven years with the Saints -- both of which rank among the top 10 in Saints history and second among tight ends.

"Henry Childs was a key contributor to our offense during his seven years with us and one of the top tight ends in our franchise's history," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement released by the team. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones from our whole organization during this difficult time."

The Saints have become known for their prolific tight end play in recent years, from Jimmy Graham to Jeremy Shockey to Benjamin Watson. But Childs was decades ahead of them.

A go-to target for quarterback Archie Manning, Childs set a franchise record with nine touchdown catches in 1977 that wasn't topped for 26 years when Joe Horn caught 10. He went to the Pro Bowl in 1979, when he had 51 catches for 846 yards and five touchdowns.

Childs was actually drafted by the rival Atlanta Falcons in the fifth round out of Kansas State in 1974. But he didn't play for the Falcons before switching to New Orleans during his rookie year. He finished his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1981 and the Green Bay Packers in 1984.