Derrick Henry thinks Emmitt Smith’s record won’t be broken

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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.

16 responses to “Derrick Henry thinks Emmitt Smith’s record won’t be broken

  1. Emmitt also played during a different cap era that allowed the Boys to keep that O-line together. That line might be one of the best in the history of the game. Emmitt also has the most yards without being touched. Averaged over 3yds before any contact some seasons. Imagine getting 3 free yards on every carry. Aikman could have QB dove his way down the field.

  2. Emmitt may have not been the most gifted back in history but you cannot deny his durability and toughness. Those reasons are a big reason why he’s the all time rushing leader.

  3. The record is monstrous. That combined with the fact that the current NFL isn’t as running back dependent as they used to be means Henry is likely correct.

  4. Sure he does. “I don’t see nobody breaking that record.” Clearly, he sees someone breaking that record. I wouldn’t be any more surprised if Frank Gore were to play for another five years at a steady pace than I would to see him snag the rushing record. It largely depends on whom he signs with next

  5. Never be broken. Ever. Two issues standing in the way. Takes longevity and a runner of that caliber to break it would need to stay healthy and would make the kind of money that would let him leave the game far sooner then needed to approach the record.

    Other issue was not around when Smith played or at least wasn’t known – CTE. Permanent brain damage. I don’t see any runner who has lifetime security nowadays at such a young age wanting to stay around the game that long. Make your millions and get out with your health. I think that’s become more and more in line with a lot of players now. Especially for players that play physical game in and game out which running back do.

    So I think Smith’s record will stand. It’s a different era and players will play less years because of health issues and the amount of money they can make.

  6. I have to say yes Emmitt had an offensive line that was great in his early years. That oline deteriorated with Larry Allen being one of the greats that stayed with Emmitt as the others retired. Emmitts ability to break tackles and make guys miss was great! It wasn’t just his oline they didn’t run down the field to continue blocking. Many times he was hit in the backfield and he broke tackles. How many running backs you know played with a separated shoulder and rush for over 160 yds and catch 10 more passes for 60 yds in a game! Highlights dont lie while that oline opened holes there were alot of times it was all Emmitt! When Emmitt held out what did his back up do for rushing yds? Not a damn thing which is why they signed him! That oline was not together but for maybe 4-5 years of his career.

  7. It might be another 20 years of medical advancement, rules changes, and shifts in styles of offensive play calling but, the record will eventually fall. Obviously won’t be easy or soon though!

  8. Like Emmitt – not impressed with the record. played forever and his YPC was comparatively low. Jim Brown, 9 years, 5.2 YPC. Emmitt, 15 years, 4.2 YPC. I’d give him an Iron Man award but not GOAT back.

  9. Teams won’t hold on to a back long enough anymore because they’d need to get paid consummate with their production. They won’t keep Henry for his entire 2nd contract because why would you? You could get 80% of the production for 15% of the salary with a guy on his rookie deal. If Henry is still averaging over 1300 yards a year when he’s 30, he’ll be in line for like $10M a year and no one wants to pay a running back $10M a year on a multi-year deal.

  10. Yes it is Emmitts record and i can’t obviously dispute that but in my eyes he doesn’t even come close to Barry and what the record could have been. Not saying he doesn’t deserve it but I’ve never really thought of that record as a big deal because of it

  11. The most impressive part about the record to me is how he was able to endure the pounding year after year, the man was gifted beyond most men with incredible genes, I read once where his father played semi-pro ball into his 50’s..that being said this subject came up once before and I laid it out then and I’ll lay it out again and wrap your brain around this for what you would have to do
    10 yrs.. 1850 yearly
    13 yrs..1425 yearly
    15 yrs..1233 yearly
    18 yrs..1025 yearly
    I simply don’t seeing this record broken, was he the greatest RB in the game, probably not I could easily put 3 or 4 backs ahead of him on just shear excitement and ability factor, but they didn’t have durability like Emmitt, but I’ve always wondered how far Jim Brown or Barry Sanders would have gone had they not retired when still having plenty left in the tank

  12. I see of these comments ” Coach Redd” talking about jim brown avg 5.2 ypc not to take anything from him but he was bigger than most lineman in his day and faster than alot of players in those days he simply ran people over . Put him in the league in the 90s he definitely wouldn’t have that ypc average! Emmitt played in an era where players were bigger and faster.

  13. Yes, Jim Brown was a great back. Also, Jim Brown played against Defensive Linemen who were sometimes smaller than he was. That was never the case with Emmitt Smith. Apples and oranges.

  14. tee bone says:
    February 6, 2021 at 8:24 pm
    I see of these comments ” Coach Redd” talking about jim brown avg 5.2 ypc not to take anything from him but he was bigger than most lineman in his day and faster than alot of players in those days he simply ran people over . Put him in the league in the 90s he definitely wouldn’t have that ypc average! Emmitt played in an era where players were bigger and faster.

    Barry played in the same era as Emmitt and averaged 5.0 ypc.

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