Emmitt Smith has said that he’d like to be alive when someone breaks his all-time rushing record, because he wishes Walter Payton had been there to celebrate Smith claiming the mantle. Unfortunately, there’s currently no one who seems to have a chance to catch Emmitt.
Appearing earlier this week on PFT Live, Smith mentioned Titans running back Derrick Henry as a player to watch. On Friday, we asked Henry whether he agrees with that assessment.
“I don’t see nobody breaking that record,” Henry said. “I definitely appreciate [Smith] saying that. I don’t see nobody breaking that record. I’m definitely going to try while I’m here.”
Henry currently sits at No. 100 on the all-time list, tied with Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren. Both have 5,860 career rushing yards.
Henry has gotten there in five seasons, at an average of 1,172 per year. At that rate, he’d need to play 15.66 seasons to catch Smith’s 18,355 yards.
However, Henry wasn’t used as much early in his career. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged 1,783 yards. At that rate, he needs to play only seven more seasons to bridge the current gap of 12,495 yards.
That’s still a very tall order. Henry turned 27 last month. He’d need to keep playing at his current level through his 33rd birthday to catch Smith.
So how long does Henry plan to keep going?
“I think I’m just going to keep playing ‘til my body tells me, ‘It’s time to hang them up.’ Hopefully I can play as long as – I don’t even know. I love this game and want to play it as long as I can.”
Durability and longevity helped Smith. If Henry can stay healthy and effective, who knows? Maybe Emmitt eventually will get the chance to hand King Henry the all-time rushing crown.