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.
Henry left Tuscaloosa in 2016 with a college football championship, Heisman Trophy, and several stiff-arm highlights in tow.
Derrick Henry's given out MEAN stiff arms at every level of football ? @KingHenry_2 @Titans @AlabamaFTBL
(via @espn, @MaxPreps) pic.twitter.com/y02utOvZOT
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 14, 2020
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.
Here?s a Breakdown of Derrick Henry?s 99-yard TD run @KingHenry_2 pic.twitter.com/klvTHOv0QV
— Korked Bats (@korkedbats) September 10, 2020
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
CROWN THE KING.
Derrick Henry has rushed for 2,000 yards in a season! #Titans
?: #HOUvsTEN on CBS
?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/fohj8JnptQ pic.twitter.com/Exzeqd9Kg6
— NFL (@NFL) January 4, 2021
RELATED: The "Derrick Henry Effect" Shrunk More Heismans Than Mark Ingram
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:
Derrick Henry ??
?: #BUFvsTEN on CBS
?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/OpBjfUCJHl pic.twitter.com/d178z1HPpW
— NFL (@NFL) October 14, 2020
This Josh Norman stiff-arm is possibly Henry's opus. Norman may be polarizing, but he's no scrub: Buffalo Bills cornerback Josh Norman weighs in at 200 pounds at six feet even.
Norman has tried to move on from the slam, but the question keeps coming up: How did it feel to get tossed like a Greek salad? Just ask Alexander Myres.
DERRICK HENRY STIFF ARM ALERT. ? @KingHenry_2
?: #DETvsTEN on CBS
?: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/wVOF39iejf pic.twitter.com/M258AOK5Tu
— NFL (@NFL) December 20, 2020
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.
Derrick Henry playing with Earl Thomas ?
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 12, 2020
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
Shiner 2022 DT/RB @Doug1as_Brooks going to man playing boys mode in the 2A State Title game pic.twitter.com/TIXuLvf1hQ
— Gerry Hamilton (@GHamilton_On3) December 17, 2020
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.
Henry has long been an avant-garde stiff-arm artist. He does stiff-arm-specific exercises in the offseason, standing on a balance ball and pushing away slow-moving friends.
It's a bizarre sight to see, but there's no denying the results.
? Derrick Henry is working to make his stiff arm even more deadly ?@KingHenry_2 @SandersFit pic.twitter.com/A1r62D4aXU
— AtoZ Sports Nashville (@AtoZSports) March 12, 2021
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.
MORE: Derrick Henry Has Been Growing Out His Hair Since Elementary School
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