Derrick Henry’s Secret Weapon for Surviving a 17-Game Season? Milk.

The NFL's best running back dishes on his diet, guilty pleasures and whether he could win a race against Tyreek Hill

October 29, 2021 10:09 am
Derrick Henry appearing in a new campaign for "Got Milk?"
Derrick Henry appearing in a new campaign for "Got Milk?"
Got Milk?

For former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, it’s ketchup. For Pro Bowler Tyler Lockett of the Seahawks, it’s Popeye’s. And for All-Pro Derrick Henry, the food that helps him find success on the football field is, well, milk.

The NFL’s leading rusher by a wide margin as the midway point of the league’s first 17-game season approaches, Henry guzzles milk by the gallon as part of his recovery process following workouts, practices and even games.

“Milk is definitely my recovery plan. I’ve been drinking it all my life and it’s something that has always been a part of what I do as far as working out and recovery and my performance,” the 27-year-old Tennessee Titan tells InsideHook. “I was encouraged by my grandmother as a kid that it would strengthen my bones. She was right. That’s why it’s been a part of my life for a long time. It’s very important if I’m working out. Got to get swole and drink milk for recovery.”

Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans in action against the New York Jets
Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans in action against the New York Jets.
Jim McIsaac/Getty

Interestingly, Henry says he’s never ordered milk to cool down his mouth with a helping of Nashville’s famous hot chicken — because the star running back avoids spicy foods.

“I don’t really eat too much hot food, really, but I know a lot of people out here love the hot chicken and enjoy it a lot. My mom loves it, too,” he says. “I don’t eat anything too crazy. Chicken, steak, fruit — all that stuff. I like pizza too, here and there. All those good things that everybody else likes. And milk counts, but I’m using it to help me, not to have it with cookies for dessert or anything like that.”

Despite skipping dessert, Henry is listed at close to 250 pounds. But being that large didn’t prevent him from pulling off the fastest run of the NFL season when he hit a top speed of 21.8 miles per hour while rushing for a 76-yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in Week 6 on Monday Night Football.

“I’m just running, not thinking about how fast I’m running or what else is going on,” Henry says. “I’m just looking to get to the end zone and run as fast as I can, away from the defense, so we can get points. It’s my job to just go out there and play. It’s what I’ve been doing since I was a kid. It’s physical. Football is football.”

As we pointed out to him, Henry’s recorded speed was faster than the top speed Tyreek Hill has logged this season for Kansas City, who the Titans defeated in Week 7. Naturally we asked Henry who would win in a race between the two.

“Year after year, time after time, Tyreek’s a fast dude, man,” Henry says. “He’s a different breed when it comes to speed. It would probably be a challenge if we got in a race. Speed’s different.”

Also different is the NFL’s expansion to a 17-game season, a marathon of football Henry is hoping to finish strong despite averaging nearly 30 touches per game, a new career high.

“I can’t worry about that,” Henry says of his workload. “I just worry about how I play each and every day and taking care of my body. I go out there and try to perform the best I can for my team. Just take pride in going out there and leading the best way you can on and off the field and trying to be the best teammate you can be. I take it one play at a time. I don’t get too carried away with all the other things. What it’s going to be is what it’s going to be. Trust in the man above.”

Though he’s currently on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s 37-year-old single-season rushing yards record (2,105) and also become the first running back in NFL history with consecutive 2,000-yard seasons, Henry is more concerned with breaking through opposing defenses.

“When that time comes, I think I’ll think about it then. If I do, I do, if I don’t, I don’t. Right now, the focus is on how we play and trying to get wins week after week and improving every day,” he says. “I don’t really try to get caught up in all the records or how many yards we get. Just go out there and play, man, and give ourselves the opportunity to play until the big one. Be the best team you can be and whatever individual things that are happening will take care of themselves in the end.”

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