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)


Georgia Northwestern's Volleyball Season Ends At Hiwassee

The 2015 volleyball season came to an end for the Lady Bobcats (0-14)  on Monday  night with a 25-12, 25-21, 25-20 loss to the Hiwassee College Tigers in Madisonville, Tn. Sarah Dorsey had four kills, a block in two digs in the loss. Gabrille Pace finished with four kills, three aces and a block. Abbey Hannah collected six assists to go with a kill and two digs. ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: Sale Creek Vs. Silverdale Volleyball

Planning Commission Votes 6-5 To Reject 7-Story Apartment Building On Cowart Street

After lengthy discussion on Monday before the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission, historical neighborhood advocates won a victory in the Southside area when the commission narrowly rejected a request to allow developers to build a seven-story apartment building on the 1200 block of Cowart Street.   The Belle Investment Co. & BYD Coward, ... (click for more)

Charges Upgraded Against Avery To Murder After Victim of Chair Leg Attack At Moccasin Bend Dies

Charges have been upgraded to murder against Leviticus Avery, 37, after a man he allegedly attacked with a chair leg has died. Avery initially was charged with aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder in the incident last Thursday at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health facility. Kevin Green, 38, remained in critical condition until he died. He was struck in ... (click for more)

Ole Man River Just Keeps Rollin

Citizens are hearing yet another new chapter in Chattanooga’s 21st Century Riverfront concrete repair saga. It seems it will require more repair, more delays and more tax dollars to do it. When will it end? Construction of the Riverfront concrete structures began in 2003. Before it was finished, designers, engineers, contractors, Public Works officials, Mayor Littlefield and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It Was Our Tool Shed

Some said the huge beams had been soaking in creosote for two or three years when the men finally stacked them to dry. They were long, about 20 feet each, and thick – maybe eight inches. I remember they were 14 inches wide but the biggest thing I remember was that it was the ugliest lumber I ever saw. They cured the beams for one entire hot summer in the Tool Shed, a huge building ... (click for more)