Posted on July 18, 2017, by Travis Pulver
When the Houston Texans selected wide receiver Andre Johnson from Miami with the No. 3 pick in the 2003 draft they had every reason to believe they were getting someone special. Over the next 12 seasons, he made 1,012 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns from ten different quarterbacks —all franchise records. It is safe to say he lived up to the hype and then some.
But then when his career was winding down, rather than let him finish where he started, they shoved him out the door. Disrespectful? Just a little bit. But it appears that the team will soon be making up for it.
Johnson, who officially retired as a member of the Texans in April, will become the first player inducted into the Texans Ring of Honor during halftime of the November 19 home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
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To be fair, NFL teams are not in the business to be respectful. They are in business to win games. The future was murky for the team at quarterback and Johnson was set to be paid a lot of money. They told him his role was going to be reduced and gave him the chance to find someone willing to trade for him.
No one was. They didn’t want to pay a guy a base of $10.5 million if they only planned for him to catch 40 passes so they let him go.
Perhaps, if they had talked about a pay cut things could have worked out differently, but they never did.
Coincidentally, Johnson ended up signing with the Indianapolis Colts and caught just 41 passes for 503 yards and four touchdowns—right about what the Texans had wanted from him. Houston signed Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III to fill the void left by Johnson’s departure. Washington ended up making 47 receptions and Shorts 42.
But the two combined didn’t cost near as much as Johnson would have against the salary cap (less than $3.5 million; Johnson would have counted $16 million against the cap).
There wasn’t even a hint of animosity from Johnson when he spoke at his retirement press conference in April.
“The love that I’ve been given has been amazing,” Johnson said (via Deepi Sidhu of the team’s official site). “I came home, and I’ve retired. I know that’s what you guys wanted, so it’s finally done. I’m very excited about it. I’ll still be here in the city of Houston.”
His only regret was the same one every player that never makes the Super Bowl has.
“I just wanted to do everything I could to put this organization on the map. The only regret I have is not helping this organization win a world championship…”
The ending may not have been the story book type that every player hopes to have, but when it is good to see the team is giving him the respect he deserves now.
All’s well that ends well.