Tennessee Titans Thursday Throwback: Eddie Georgeby Joe Heller May 6, 2021 0 comments
You can’t mention the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans without mentioning the stars they’ve had at the running back position. From Derrick Henry now to Chris Johnson previously, even way back to Earl Campbell. You would be remiss in mention the Titans and their running backs without including Eddie George.
Off to a Fast Start
In the 1996 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans organization (then known as the Houston Oilers) selected running back George at No. 14 overall. The 1995 Heisman Trophy winner out of Ohio State rushed for 1,368 yards, scoring eight touchdowns in his debut season. He was named the 1996 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. The following season, the team moved to Tennessee, where George and quarterback Steve McNair were tasked with leading the offense.
Throughout his career, the four-time Pro Bowl selection amassed 10,441 career rushing yards and 68 touchdowns over his eight seasons. He spent the majority of that time with the Titans/Oilers, save for one season in Dallas. George tallied 1,200 or more rushing yards in each of his first five NFL seasons. He was a key part of the 1999 AFC Championship team that came up just one yard short of tying Super Bowl XXXIV against the Rams on the final play of the game.
Respect and Friendship Post-Retirement
Baltimore Ravens Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and George had many battles throughout their careers. Lewis won some and George won some. Lewis has said in various interviews that George – along with Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis – were among the toughest battles on the field throughout his career. While they were fierce rivals on the field, Lewis and George have become close friends since their respective retirements. That friendship became more solidified after the death of their common teammate McNair, who played for the Ravens after he left the Tennessee.
Although he spent his final NFL season with the Cowboys, George will always be remembered as a Titan. During halftime of their 2019 home opener, the Titans retired the numbers of both George (27) and, fittingly, McNair (9). For one final time, the Titans faithful gave him a round of “Eddie! Eddie!” chants, just as they did when he was on the field.
Mentorship and Legacy
George is also credited with lighting a fire under current Titans running back Derrick Henry. When the running back wasn’t being productive through the first half of the 2019 season, George called him out for giving up on runs, and not using his size to his advantage. Apparently it worked. Since then, Henry has been arguably the best running back in the league, winning back to back rushing titles and this past season eclipsing the 2,000 rushing yards in a season mark.
In 2001, George had the distinct honor of becoming the first NFL player featured on the cover of the Madden video game as John Madden himself had only been on the cover previously. This year, there are rumors that a Henry cover has been leaked, so he may follow in George’s footsteps.
In addition to motivating Henry, George also did his part to motivate his former team and their fan base at large, starring in playoff hype videos for Tennessee’s last two postseason runs, as well as key regular season matchups.
In March, George signed a five year contract to become the head coach of Tennessee State. Although he has no previous coaching experience, considering the way he motivated King Henry, the college football team at TSU is in good hands.
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