He became the 10th running back since 1953 and first since 2006-2007 to win consecutive rushing titles. Even more historically, he joined one of the most hallowed groups in all of sports, the 2,000-yard club. He is one of eight running backs in it. Plenty of Hall-of-Famers are members of both, of course.
Despite all of that, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry did not receive a single MVP vote.
On a recent appearance on Bussin’ With the Boys, the Barstool Sports podcast hosted by his teammates, linebacker Will Compton and Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan, Henry said he felt “a little surprised” about the fact.
“Just because there have only been eight people who have done it,” he said. “I had the fifth most (yards) in NFL history. Just acknowledge me a little bit.”
Henry was not even one of the three finalists for the award. The runners-up to Green Bay’s Rodgers were two other quarterbacks, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Buffalo's Josh Allen.
Henry’s 2,027 yards and second straight rushing title did, however, did not go completely unrecognized. The two-time Pro Bowler and 2020 AP First-Team All-Pro took home Offensive Player of the Year honors at the NFL Awards ceremony on Feb. 6.
In addition to his yardage total, the fifth highest in league history, he led all running backs with 17 rushing touchdowns and tied for third overall in total touchdowns. He also became the first player with multiple overtime touchdowns in the same season, when he scored the game-winner against Houston (Week 6) and Baltimore (Week 11). Tennessee was 8-2 when he scored a touchdown, 6-0 when he scored more than one.
He rushed for 200 yards or more in four games, the most by a running back in a single season, including in Week 17 against the Houston Texans, when he needed 223 yards to reach 2,000 on the season. He ended up going off for 250 in that victory, which lifted the Titans to their first AFC South since 2008.
“I think you should have won the MVP,” Lewan told Henry on the podcast. “... If you go into the 16th game of the year, Week 17, and people go, ‘Ah, he needs 223.’ Every other running back, it’s like, ‘It’s not going to f***** happen. There’s no way.’ With you, it’s like, ‘It’s a possibility.’”
Plenty of Hall of Famers are members of both the 2,000 yard and back-to-back rushing title clubs. Barry Sanders, the former Detroit Lions running back who ran for 2,000 in 1997, recently said that he can see Henry rushing for 2,000 yards for a second time. No running back has ever done that.
If that comes to a reality, Henry said there should be no doubt about it.
“If I go for 2,000 yards again and don’t win it,” he said, “that’s disrespectful.”