Why Derrick Henry is guaranteed to make the NFL Hall of Fame

Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans
Cincinnati Bengals v Tennessee Titans / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

Although the Tennessee Titans’ win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 11 likely won’t mean much in the outcome of this season, it was important for one player.

In that game, Derrick Henry became the 38th player to ever reach 9,000 career rushing yards. Henry’s two scores also brought him within one touchdown of legendary running back Marshawn Lynch’s 85 career rushing touchdowns, establishing Henry’s stats as a pro in some very good company.

On Tuesday morning, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced this year's modern-era semi-finalists, a list that included some first-year-eligible nominees like Antonio Gates and Julius Peppers, and even Tennessee’s very own Eddie George. 

Naturally, this got me thinking: if Eddie George is getting serious consideration, how does Derrick Henry stack up?

Comparing two Tennessee Titans legends

Derrick Henry and Eddie George’s base statistics are pretty comparable. 

In 28 more games, George (10,441 yds) has amassed about 1,400 more rushing yards than Henry (9074 yds). In terms of scoring, Henry already has considerably more rushing touchdowns (84 to George’s 68). George’s yardage numbers are certainly reachable for Henry, who likely needs to finish this season and play just one more full year to close the distance.

When comparing career accolades, Henry’s and George's are notably similar. Although it likely would not be in consideration for the Hall of Fame debate, Henry and George are both Heisman trophy winners and came into the NFL with a high pedigree. 

George has one more Pro Bowl nomination than Henry with four total, and was named 1996 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Henry has one more All-Pro nomination, however, with three total, including a First-Team All-Pro nomination in 2020 to match George’s in the 2000 season. Henry also earned the Offensive Player of the Year award in 2020.

In terms of team success, neither player has a championship ring, although both George and Henry have led their respective teams to multiple playoff berths and deeper playoff runs.

Considering the argument is being made for Eddie George, Derrick Henry feels like a lock to make it to the Hall.

Although the media has talked about Henry’s decline for quite some time now, he continues to produce at a high level behind a patchwork offensive line, and will likely earn another Pro Bowl selection this season barring a massive injury. 

Derrick Henry is quickly approaching the average HoF running back’s 10,991 rushing yards and 86 touchdowns in almost 40 fewer games played. It's clear that he has a ridiculous amount of touchdowns for the number of games he has played in, averaging just over one touchdown per game started in his career, and is on pace to be one of the greatest touchdown scorers of all time.

Aside from just career stats, Henry also has highly memorable moments in his career that are very significant to Hall of Fame voting, like when he broke 2,000 rushing yards in a season, countless stiff arms, and his fabled 99-yard run.

It remains to be seen whether he will stay with the Titans following the 2023 season, but Derrick Henry will always be a Tennessee legend. And at the end of the day, it should be enough to get him a spot in Canton.