Ed was born in Ontario, California on December 13, 1927. His family moved to Ventura when Ed was in elementary school. He attended Ventura High School from 1942-1945. It was while a student-athlete at Ventura High that Ed blossomed into a multi-sport star, earning letters in four sports.
After high school, Ed attended Ventura College from 1945-1947. He again earned letters in four sports: football, basketball, baseball and as a member of the track team. Ed's outstanding athletic exploits earned him a football and basketball scholarship to the University of Southern California (USC).
While attending USC, because of some administrative red tape, Ed was limited to playing football only. It turned out that he only played one year, 1948. He never played basketbll for USC because he signed a professional football contract. Ed received his bachelor's degree in 1952, attending part time while playing pro football.
As a member of the USC football team in 1948, he was used priomarily on the defensive line. The highlight of that season was the game against Notre dame. it was played at the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 103,000 spectators, the largest crowd to have watched a college football game to date. The game ended in a 14-14 tie. Later that year, Ed was selected to play in the Hula Bowl in Hawaii, but declined in order to study for finals. Regardless, Ed received Honrable Mention All Coast recognition.
In 1949, Ed was drafted by the Washington Redskins. However, he was also offered contracts by the San Francisco 49ers and the LA Dones. Ed signed with the Dons. A two way player (offense and defense), at age 21, Ed was the youngest player on the team. Ed also played briefly in the Canadian Football League, but returned to the 49ers and haad two stints with them: 1951-1952 and 1956-1960. He was traded to the St. louis Cardinals, and played his last year of pro football, as a player-coach, in 1963 for St. Louis.
During his professional career, Ed was named to the Canadian All Star team in 1950, and in 1952 was on the NFL All Pro Second Team as a defensive end. The Associated press listed him as an Honorable Mention All Pro. In 1953, he played for the victorious National Conference in the Pro Bowl game. In 1996, he was selected on the All Time Golden Era team, and in 2000, the Ventura Star listed Ed as one of the All Century team for local high school players.
A little known but noteworthy side note about Ed Henke was that he convinced Pat Cannemela to attend the University of Southern California. Cal Berkely and USC were recruiting Pat, and after Ed had a talk with Pat, Pat chose USC. A second fact, though not little known, is that Ed's younger brother, Karl, was on the Joe Namath led New York Jets team that defeated the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl.
Ed served with the US Army in the early 1950's and after military service, he resumed his education at Stanford University, where he received a Master's Degree in 1956.