NASHVILLE – Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson met Titans running back Derrick Henry several years ago, and he was immediately blown away by his size.
"I consider myself a big back, and when he walked up to me, I was like, 'Damn, he makes me look little," Dickerson, who's 6-3, 225 pounds, recalled. "He looks like a Transformer. If I am on defense, I wouldn't want to tackle him. He's big – big neck, big chest, big shoulders, big thighs, big hands, big feet, big toes.
"And I like the way he runs the ball, the way he puts fear in those defensive players, especially DBs."
Dickerson, who works for the Rams, said in a conversation on Saturday, the day before the Titans played in Indianapolis against the Colts, he was looking forward to seeing Henry play in person this Sunday in Los Angeles.
"He reminds me of me," Dickerson said of Henry. "You carry it 29 times, and then you carry it 30 times the next week, carry it 28 times the next week, then 31. But he's built for that, that's all he knows. And that's all I knew. You feel like if you are healthy enough, you can do it. You want to do it."
Dickerson, who holds the NFL's single-season rushing record with 2,105 yards, set in 1984 with the Los Angeles Rams, with a smile even passed a message on to Henry, who he called a "really nice young man."
"Tell Derrick I said hello, and wish him good luck," Dickerson said. "And, tell him don't break my record. … He can have another 2,000 yards, but don't break my record."
Henry, of course, won't break Dickerson's single-season rushing record, at least not this year. The NFL's leading rusher the past two seasons who had already accumulated 937 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in eight games this season, had surgery on Tuesday after suffering a foot injury in Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
On Tuesday, Dickerson said in a follow-up interview he's sick about it, for Henry.
"Tell him I am really sorry about him getting hurt, because I was looking forward to watching him. I've never had a chance to see him play in person," Dickerson said of Henry. "I really do hate it for him. Somebody said, 'Well, he's not going to get (your) record. I said, I don't care about that record that much to see a player get hurt. Because I'm a running back, and I know how physical the game is. Everything has to be perfect in a season like that, and the first thing is you can't get hurt. I hate that he got hurt."
Henry, who tallied 2,027 rushing yards in 2020, had a chance to make a run at Dickerson's single-season record this season.
Of all players in NFL history with a 2,000-yard rushing season, his 937 rushing yards in 2021 are the most of any payer in their first eight games in the season after hitting the 2,000-yard mark. The previous mark was held by Barry Sanders with 872 rushing yards in Detroit's first eight games of 1998.
Dickerson, who racked up 13,259 rushing yards while being named to six Pro Bowls from 1983-1993, mostly with the Rams and Colts, was the NFL's rushing leader four times in his career.
Dickerson said he'll be rooting for Henry to make a successful recovery, while offering this advice:
"He's still young, and he's still a young back. I hope he can come back next year and go after (the record) again," Dickerson said. "Tell Derrick to hang in there, this is a part of football. And I'd tell him to get healthy, and make sure you are 100 percent when you come back.
"To me, he's the best back in the league, by far. And to me, it's not even close. And I think people know that. The guy came back and played on a broken foot and didn't even know it. That's the type of player he is, and how he's programmed. And when you're like that, you don't want to let your team down… I know it hurts him to let his team down and not be available. But he doesn't want to let himself down either. I want him to get healthy, and to not come back until after he is completely healthy. Because after this sport is over with, and I tell all guys, 'You are going to be an old man a lot longer than you are going to be a young man.' He still has a lot of years left, so he has to get himself right first. I wish him the best."