NASHVILLE – Chris Johnson will never forget the day he eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark.
He'll never forget watching Titans running back Derrick Henry do it either.
"We talked after the game," Johnson said on Monday, one day after Henry finished the 2020 season with 2,027 rushing yards. "I told Derrick: It was beautiful to watch. For me to sit back and watch it myself, now I know how others felt when they told me how excited they were watching me. I was so happy, so excited for Derrick.
"This is something he'll never forget. No one will ever forget it. He rushed for 2,000 yards in the NFL, and he's one of only eight guys ever to do it. It is phenomenal."
Henry, who ran for 250 yards in Tennessee's 41-38 win over the Texans on Sunday, led the NFL and set a franchise record with 2,027 rushing yards in 2020. He became the eighth player in league history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a season. His 2,027 rushing yards gave him the fifth-highest total in NFL history behind Eric Dickerson's 2,105 (1984), Adrian Peterson's 2,097 (2012), Jamal Lewis' 2,066 (2003) and Barry Sanders' 2,053 (1997).
Henry broke Johnson's franchise mark of 2,006 rushing yards in 2009. Johnson set his mark in the season finale in Seattle.
The Titans became the first NFL franchise to have two players reach the 2,000-yard rushing mark.
Former Oilers running back Earl Campbell produced a 1,934-yard season in 1980, and a 1,697-yard season in 1979. Former Titans running back Eddie George ran for 1,509 yards during the 2000 season.
"All records will eventually be broken one day," Johnson said. "If anyone was going to run for 2,000 yards again, I'm glad it came from somebody who plays for the Titans. … The Titans, we basically have the best running backs in NFL history – we have two guys who rushed for 2,000 yards. We're the only franchise to have two running backs go over 2,000 yards."
Henry and Johnson have become friends over the years.
Johnson said he's rooted for Henry ever since he first arrived in the NFL back in 2016 after a stellar career at the University of Alabama.
Henry became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson (2006-07) to lead the NFL in rushing yards in consecutive seasons. Henry previously led the league in 2019 with 1,540 rushing yards. He finished the season with 2,141 scrimmage yards (2,027 rushing and 114 receiving), which ranks second in franchise history behind Chris Johnson's 2,509 scrimmage yards in 2009.
"Watching Derrick these past couple of years, I'm a big fan of is," Johnson said. "I've always wanted to see him do great. … I remember a couple of years ago, when some people were giving up on him, I always said, the type of back he is, just "Feed the beast, man. Feed the beast.' After that, they started feeding him, and you see how it turned out."