Big John Henderson Will Be Vols "Legend" At Sunday Opener

First Visit to Neyland Stadium Since His Final Game In 2001

Friday, August 29, 2014 - by Special to

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – From 1999-2001, John Henderson cast a long shadow on the defensive line for Tennessee. Sunday, the man and the shadow return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since his final run through the “T”.

Henderson will be honored before the Tennessee-Utah State game as the Legend of the Game, celebrating a decorated career at UT that saw the Nashville native pick up a long list of awards, including two All-American nods and multiple SEC honors.

He was the 2000 Outland Trophy winner from a season that saw him record 71 tackles and an eye-popping 12 sacks.

In his Tennessee career, Henderson racked up 165 tackles and 20.5 sacks. He was a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award as a senior, despite missing two games with injuries.

Henderson had to sit out his freshman season at UT in 1998 under the old partial qualifier rules, but used the year away from competition to grind away in practice, ready to make a contribution in 1999. He took over starting duties at defensive tackle in the fifth game of his sophomore season for an injured Billy Ratliff and never looked back. After making that initial start against Georgia in Neyland Stadium, Henderson would start every game he participated in for the remainder of his career.

The long shadow cast on opponents by Henderson led to one of the first interactive player features on the then-new video board at Neyland Stadium. After a sack or big play by Henderson, a few bars from the classic Jimmy Dean song "Big Bad John" would play with an animation of Henderson.

Henderson was a first round NFL Draft pick in 2002, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the ninth overall selection. He set his career high for sacks in his first season in Jacksonville with 6.5 to go with 53 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries. In an NFL career that would span 10 seasons with the Jaguars and Oakland Raiders, Henderson recorded 489 tackles and 29 sacks. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and 2006.

Henderson retired from football following the 2011 season and will return to Neyland Stadium for the first time since he celebrated his Senior Day with a 38-0 shutout of Vanderbilt in 2001. 

(E-mail Larry Fleming at and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)


Lookouts' Winning Pitcher In SL Championship Featured In NY Times Article

Jason Wheeler, who won Game 2 on the road, finished off Biloxi with four innings out of the bullpen as Double-A Chattanooga took the Southern League Championship Series with a 4-0 victory in Game 5 in Chattanooga. The Twins' No. 25 prospect was named the Most Valuable Player after limiting the Shuckers to a run on four hits over 11 innings in two finals appearances. Wheeler ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Around The Game - Vanderbilt at Tennessee

Volkswagen Stockholder Files Suit Against Automaker At Chattanooga; Seeks Class Action Status

A Volkswagen stockholder has filed suit in Federal Court in Chattanooga against the automaker, charging that its stock was over-valued and that it has now plummeted due to revelations about emissions cheating. The suit was filed in behalf of Michael Wolfenbarger by Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball and Nashville attorney James Stranch III. It seeks class action status for those ... (click for more)

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Shot In The Face Saturday Night Near O'Rear Street

A woman is in critical condition after she was shot while driving in Chattanooga on Saturday night. Just after  9 p.m. , the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a person shot. Once on the scene, police located a female victim near the 2500 block of O'Rear Street suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the face. The victim was driving a ... (click for more)

Misconceptions About Ban The Box

Mr. Exum,  I want to invite you as a guest speaker at the NAACP General Membership meeting.  I believe we can accomplish our goals and clear up any misconceptions about Ban The Box and the role of the NAACP in a much more meaningful manner face to face.   In that vein I would like to invite you to have coffee with me at Panera Bread.  I will not make a ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Great Thanksgiving

In order for you to best understand this, last Thursday was the first Thanksgiving I have ever spent alone.  Don’t misunderstand, I had a fistful of kind invitations but I am the only remaining member of my immediate family around here and I guess I started dwelling on that a little too much as the holiday neared. Making out my “thankful” list helped, and I ate enough with ... (click for more)