NASHVILLE – Derrick Henry has said he owes former Titans running back Eddie George a debt of gratitude for helping jump-start his NFL career with a heart-to-heart conversation back in 2018.
Now, George owes Henry a pair of sneakers.
Some pretty cool ones, in fact.
"Oh yeah, they're going to be pretty special," George with a smile.
Try this on for size:
George, a Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State, and Henry, who won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Alabama, went back and forth texting leading up to the Alabama-Ohio State National Championship Game last month.
Then, they decided to make a friendly wager on the game.
"We didn't bet anything money-wise – that's too easy," George said. "We bet our favorite pair of sneakers, because we love sneakers. I know Derrick is a shoe connoisseur."
George picked out a pair of Air Jordans, because he loves Jordans.
He was looking forward to getting them on his feet.
But when Alabama beat Ohio State 52-24 back on January 11, Henry also ended up the winner, of course.
And George decided he wanted to do something really unique.
"What I have in the works for Derrick, since he did win the bet, is I'm getting him something special that is going to commemorate and celebrate his 2,000-yard season," George said of Henry. "It's going to be a custom design. Right now, I am in the process of doing that."
Henry led the NFL and set a franchise record with 2,027 rushing yards in 2020, becoming the eighth player in league annals 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 Chris Johnson's franchise mark of 2,006 rushing yards in 2009.
George, who played from 1996-2003 with the Titans, has become good friends with Henry. In fact, when Henry's career got off to a slow start, he went to George for advice. Henry said George "gave me a different outlook moving forward," at that point, and he'd led the NFL in rushing the past two seasons.
"The year he had was one for the ages," George said of Henry's 2020 season. "When you have in front of your name, 'the only running back to do something in NFL history' or 'one of eight to run for 2,000 yards' or 'the only back to have this or that. … He had the ultimate year, and the only thing missing from it was an MVP accolade, Super Bowl MVP, and going to the Super Bowl. That is the only thing missing from going to a dream season like that. It was remarkable what he did this year."
George said he's still waiting on the finished product to present to Henry.
This is a bet he's actually looking forward to paying off.
"They're not done yet," George said of the commemorative sneakers. "You can't rush perfection."