The stiff-arm is a move as old as football. American football is the only sport where it’s legal (yes, yes, we hear you, rugby.).
It’s the pose of the Heisman Trophy. It’s an indispensable move for any professional running back. All the greats have had a mean stiffy, from Jim Brown to Walter Payton to Garrison Hearst to “Beastmode” Marshawn Lynch. Any running back who can put it down can lay down defenses with a simple arm extension.
The stiff-arm may be synonymous with football, but Derrick Henry is synonymous with the stiff-arm.
The Nick Saban-coached, Alabama national championship-winning running back has smacked cornerbacks around since high school. Taller than most runners, Henry doesn’t so much hide his size as use it. His greatest asset might be his right arm, as embarrassed Pro Bowlers Josh Norman and Earl Thomas will tell you.
But that’s what happens to grown men who dare to step in front of linebacker-sized rusher Derrick Henry, a beast with a tendency to throw hands?
Who is Derrick Henry?
Derrick Henry may sleep comfortably on a Tempur-Pedic, but defenders can’t sleep when Henry is near.
The tailback has busted opponents’ tails since attending Yulee High School in Florida. He burst onto the national football scene in 2013 with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Here, we see Henry practically flip Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun like a 6-foot-5, 250-pound rag doll. I suppose when you’re Henry, anyone can be a rag doll. He still embodies the Heisman Trophy with his unshakable stiff-arm in the National Football League today.
Henry has always been an underrated runner due to his bulldozing size. We can guess how he earned the nickname Tractorcito (“little tractor”) now, but NFL Draft scouts in 2016 weren’t so sure Henry could continue to level defenses as a pro.
The scouts were wrong.
That is Derrick Henry two years after falling to the second round of the 2016 draft. That’s a 99-yard touchdown run, the longest in NFL history. Henry adds two victims to his stiff-arm spree; both Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-foot, 190-pound A.J. Bouye and 6-foot-2, 245-pound Leon Jacobs. It’s a shame. Neither man has been seen again since that NFL game at Nissan Stadium.
Henry is more than just a highlight machine. Henry has led the perennially-underperforming Titans to three playoff appearances since arriving in Nashville, including the AFC Conference Championship Game they lost to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, Tennessee lost their Wild Card bout against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Next season, Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans want to stiff-arm the entire NFL.
Derrick Henry’s Stiff-Arm Highlights
There are too many examples of Derrick Henry making grown men look like featherweights with the strength of his stiff-arm. Nearly every team has endured his right hook, from the Colts to the Eagles, to the Packers, to the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers.
To highlight a few of my favorite:
Yikes! Someone call the medic. Detroit Lions defensive back Alex Myres is a mere 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. That’s short work for a superhuman like Derrick Henry. Check Myers stat line — Henry literally ended his career.
Then, he ended Super Bowl champion Earl Thomas’s career with the Ravens.
Defensive great Earl Thomas got turned around and hurried along by an ultra-rare double-stiffy. At one point, Thomas looks confused, so Henry pushes him toward the end zone.
Derrick Henry’s Stiff-Arm is Earned, Not Given
I mean, Derrick Henry (and that tough-looking 11th-grader) give stiff-arms out to opposing players. But they’ve earned the right to do so.
It’s a bizarre sight to see, but there’s no denying the results.
Henry treats his bear claw like an art and a science. He has three types of stiff-arms, breaking his movements down like a martial artist. Henry is a living example of form relating to function: Tractorito has long arms, so he uses them.
And if the AFC isn’t careful, the Titans’ Derrick Henry will stiff-arm the Titans to a Super Bowl in 2021.