"Are you kidding me?"

Those were the words of Saints radio play-by-play announcer Jim Henderson as Minnesota Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs raced into the end zone to break the hearts of the whole city of New Orleans three weeks ago in the playoffs.

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Jim Henderson, the legendary New Orleans Saints play-by-play announcer for the past 30 years, is hugged by Bobby Hebert, a former Saints quarterback and a current WWL sportscaster, after Henderson announced his retirement at the WWL radio studios in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

Those were also probably the words of many Saints fans on Thursday, when Henderson announced he was retiring from the radio booth.

And it's probably what Henderson's replacement will be saying, too, as he attempts to fill some giant shoes. 

Henderson's retirement comes just seven months after he was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Sports Journalism.

If there were a Hall of Fame for nice guys, or one for professionalism, the 71-year-old Henderson would be in that one, too.

"It's been a great ride," Henderson said.

Henderson is an institution, his voice as synonymous with Saints football as the Who Dat chant or the fleur-de-lis on the sides of the helmets.

For many, it's the only radio voice they've ever heard on Sunday afternoons.

Most of the players on the Saints roster weren't even born when Henderson first stepped in the radio booth in the Superdome.

He started as the team's color analyst in 1982, then took over play-by-play duties four years later in 1986.

Some of his fondest memories in the booth surely started in 2000.

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Photos: Events from the Saints practice on Sunday at The Greenbrier _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Radio announcers Jim Henderson, left and Hokie Gajan, right, sit in the bleachers waiting for the Saints' morning Training Camp practice to begin Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

That's when Hokie Gajan joined him and they formed a dynamic duo, the broadcast version of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

A "bromance," as Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic once described the relationship between Henderson and Gajan.

The two were like brothers, clicking from the very beginning, inside the booth and outside of it.

They fished together.

They hung out together.

They traveled to training camp together.

They called games together until Gajan died of cancer in 2016.

Henderson also worked in the booth alongside two of the most legendary names in Saints history, starting off with Archie Manning and finishing with Deuce McAllister.

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Jim Henderson, the legendary New Orleans Saints play-by-play announcer for the past 30 years, is hugged by Deuce McAllister, a former Saints running back and a current WWL sportscaster, after Henderson announced his retirement at the WWL radio studios in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

"Total, total professional," Manning said. "He's a close friend, and in my opinion, he is the best at what he did. He's one of the best I've ever seen. He was so passionate about the Saints, and he took losses hard."

And as a Saints play-by-play man, Henderson saw his share of losses. But there were plenty of unforgettable moments, too.   

There was the time the Saints traveled to Pittsburgh in 1987 to beat the Steelers, securing the down-on-its-luck franchise its first winning season.

There was the first playoff win in 2000.

And then there was that Monday night in 2006, when the Saints returned to the Dome after Hurricane Katrina.

"Hokie and I were literally crying as we walked into the Dome,” Henderson said in an interview in 2016. “I recall little about that game, because it was so emotional. I don’t even remember what my call of the (Steve) Gleason punt was, because the game was so emotional. It was probably horrible. I was just in shock the entire game.”

His most iconic call, though, came a few years later as Garret Hartley's field goal sailed through the uprights.

"And it's good. It's good. It's goooooooooooooood! Ha-ha-ha! Pigs have flown! Hell has frozen over! The Saints are on their way to the Super Bowl."

Two weeks later, the Saints won it.

"Get ready to party with the Lombardi, New Orleans," Henderson called in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIV. "The miracle in Miami has happened! The Saints have won the Super Bowl!"

But it was the Miracle in Minnesota that brought Henderson's career to a close.

"Here's (Case) Keenum. Dropping. Looking. Throwing near sideline. And it's caught by Stefon Diggs.He's going to take it inside the 15. Ten. Five. Touchdown on the final play of this game. Are you kidding me?"

It not only ended the season, it also brought to an end a stellar broadcasting career.

Well done, Jim. Well done. 

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.