Andre Johnson might not have played for a consistent winner during his career, but he won most of his individual battles on the field.
For that reason, he should eventually get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. First ballot? Unlikely. Few wide receivers make it their first time around. Terrell Owens is a recent example of this, and Owens has better numbers than Johnson. The selection board usually needs a couple of years to digest the ever-increasing numbers of wide receivers.
But Johnson, who on Monday informed the Tennessee Titans of his intention to retire, has the statistics to qualify. Johnson is ninth all time with 1,062 receptions in 14 seasons. He’s 10th in yards, with 14,185. And he has 70 touchdowns.
What Johnson didn’t have was a lot of winning seasons, and that isn’t his fault. The Texans went 75-101 in his 12 years there. He was a first-round pick in the second year of the Houston Texans after they entered the league in 2002. His quarterback was David Carr, who spent five years getting pounded by opposing defenses. Carr was sacked 249 times in five seasons.
Johnson and the Texans won only 20 games in his first four years. He caught 311 passes and had two 1,000-yard seasons. He was the epitome of a No. 1 receiver.
The Texans traded for Matt Schaub in 2007, and all of a sudden the offense came alive. The combination of Schaub at quarterback, Gary Kubiak at coach and Andre Johnson at receiver made the Texans a factor for the first time in team history. The Texans jumped to the No. 14 offense in Schaub’s first season.
No matter the coverage, the Texans had a four-year stretch from 2007-10 in which he averaged 93.5 to 98.4 receiving yards per game. The Texans improved in 2007 and 2008 with back-to-back winning seasons. Once Arian Foster established himself as a Pro Bowl-caliber running back in 2010, the Texans became a playoff contender. Johnson, however, only played in two playoff games.
The Hall of Fame selection board doesn’t necessary judge candidates by their win-loss percentage. Andre Tippett and Cortez Kennedy made the Hall of Fame even though the franchises they played for weren’t winning during their best seasons.
Johnson almost always got his six or seven catches a game for 90 or more yards. He did it quietly and professionally. At some point, he can trade his Texans jersey for a Hall of Fame gold jacket.
What will be an interesting debate is how Andre Johnson matches up against former Lions wideout Calvin Johnson, who made a surprising decision to retire this offseason. Calvin Johnson was a matchup nightmare for cornerbacks. But he played only nine seasons to Andre’s 14. He had one 100-plus-catch season to Andre Johnson’s five. Calvin Johnson did have 28 more touchdowns than Andre Johnson, though.
Andre Johnson will make the Hall of Fame — eventually – ESPN