In 2022, the discussion will begin in earnest, though, over whether wide receiver Andre Johnson deserves a bust in Canton, as Johnson is one of a handful of first time potential inductees to join the ballot, along with several other big names. like those listed below:
Johnson finished his career 11th in all time receiving yards, and with seven Pro Bowls and three first team All Pro berths to his credit. Until J.J. Watt won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in a four season span, Johnson was considered the no-brainer greatest player in the franchise's brief history. Johnson was among the most respected players on the planet, both among his teammates and his peers league wide. In short, Andre Johnson deserves induction into Canton, it's just a matter of when it happens.
Notable eligibles for the first time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 include DeMarcus Ware, Steve Smith Sr., Andre Johnson, Robert Mathis, Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester and Vince Wilfork. pic.twitter.com/5gRbtLBbAR— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 9, 2021
Here are a few thoughts on the topic, and see if you agree with me:
The current pool of candidates plays in Johnson's favor, when it comes to getting in soon
Before I lay out my reasoning behind the above statement, here are the odds on who gets included in next year's Hall of Fame class, courtesy of betonline.ag:
To be Inducted in 2022 NFL HOF ClassWhile these are all obviously great players, there are no "Peyton Manning"s or "Charles Woodson"s on this list, guys who've been anointed for Canton from the early stages of their NFL careers, if not sooner. That Torry Holt and Devin Hester are viewed as practically "even money" choices says everything about the current pool — lots of very good players, no immortals. This should bode well for Andre Johnson, who is decent value at 7/2 for inclusion.
DeMarcus Ware 2/3
Torry Holt 10/11
Devin Hester 1/1
Tony Boselli 6/5
Richard Seymour 7/4
Reggie Wayne 5/2
Robert Mathis 5/2
Zach Thomas 11/4
Jared Allen 3/1
LeRoy Butler 3/1
Andre Johnson 7/2
Ronde Barber 6/1
Steve Smith 9/1
Asante Samuel 12/1
Anquan Boldin 16/1
Vince Wilfork 16/1
Darren Woodson 25/1
Steve Tasker 25/1
Is the "wide receiver logjam" real or a narrative?
I would say that the number of potential Hall of Fame wide receivers is more plentiful than most other positions, including two first time ballot entries alongside Johnson in Steve Smith (9th all time in receiving yards) and Anquan Boldin (14th). Holt (16th) and Reggie Wayne (10th) are holdovers from previous seasons, but both are likely penalized being second fiddles on their own teams to current Hall of Famer receivers (Isaac Bruce and Marvin Harrison, respectively). They also played in elite offenses with MVP quarterbacks. Andre Johnson played with Matt Schaub and David Carr. How's this for a number? Add in Smith and Boldin to Wayne and Holt, and Andre Johnson has as many first team All Pro designations at wide receiver as the four of them combined. (Smith had one first team All Pro season as a return guy.) Andre Johnson is the best of this bunch.
How does the frosty relationship between Johnson and the team affect things?
Now, I'm sure the Texans would celebrate Johnson's induction into Canton with great pomp, circumstance and fanfare. Hell, there's not much else to celebrate now with that franchise. However, I'm not so sure the celebration would go both ways, lest we forget that Johnson's last public statements about the Texans as a franchise have been largely critical, including this now famous tweet after Deshaun Watson's trade demands became public:
I have no idea if Andre Johnson would like to have that tweet back, now that we know there was a whole lot more going on with Watson that we didn't know about. Whatever the case, Johnson hasn't deleted the tweet. I'm guessing Johnson would put his weapons down for a weekend, and my broader guess is that Johnson despises Jack Easterby more than anybody else. The McNairs are reportedly very much in favor of helping Johnson get to Canton in any way necessary.
If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground. The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!— Andre Johnson (@johnson80) January 12, 2021
What Texans come after Andre Johnson?
It shouldn't take more than a few voting cycles to get Johnson into the Hall of Fame. If I had to forecast, I would estimate 2024, or 2025, at the latest. So what other players with Texan ties should we see get in imminently or sometime further down the road? I think this is the list:
TONY BOSELLI, OT (currently eligible)
I think he should be in already, and yes, I know he never played a down for the Texans
SHANE LECHLER, P (eligible in 2023)
He spent most of his career with the Raiders, and his last five seasons with the Texans. He should be the second under inducted (Ray Guy, another former Raider, was the first)
VINCE WILFORK (currently eligible for first time)
Like Lechler, Wilfork finished up his career with a couple final seasons as a Texan after a storied career in New England. If he makes it, it will be on the strength of being a leader and cog on a perennial Super Bowl contender. Wilfork has two rings.
J.J. WATT (active)
He is a lock for first ballot Hall of Famer as soon as he is eligible.
DeANDRE HOPKINS (active)
Hopkins numbers at this stage of his career actually eclipse Johnson's, and he will likely be playing the remainder of his career with Kyler Murray, who only figures to improve over the next couple years.
TYRANN MATHIEU (active)
Mathieu played one season in Houston, after spending his first five seasons in Arizona, with one All Pro nod. He's been in Kansas City the last two seasons, and has reclaimed his spot as one of the top safeties in the league, All Pro both seasons.
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