Sean Pendergast

Four Reasons Andre Johnson Should Go Into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Andre Johnson has a decent shot at landing in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Andre Johnson has a decent shot at landing in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Photo by Eric Sauseda
There has not been much good news for Texan fans over the last couple years, so it would be nice to have something we can all rally around, and feel good again. It would be nice to take ourselves back to a simpler time and place when the Texans were frisky and kind of average, as opposed to being arguably the worst team in football, like they are now.

Enter Texans living legend, the one and only Andre Johnson, who was recently one of seven former players, who are first-time eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, to be named to the Hall's semifinalist list for the 2022 induction class. Here is the complete list:

Cornerback Eric Allen – 1988-1994 Eagles, 1995-97 Saints, 1998-2001 Raiders
Defensive end Jared Allen, DE – 2004-07 Chiefs, 2008-2013 Vikings, 2014-15 Bears, 2015 Panthers
Tackle Willie Anderson, T – 1996-2007 Bengals, 2008 Ravens
Defensive back Ronde Barber, CB-S – 1997-2012 Buccaneers
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin – 2003-09 Cardinals, 2010-12 Ravens, 2013-15 49ers, 2016 Lions
Tackle Tony Boselli – 1995-2001 Jaguars
Safety LeRoy Butler – 1990-2001 Packers
Running back Eddie George – 1996-2003 Oilers/Titans, 2004 Cowboys
Kick returner Devin Hester – 2006-2013 Bears, 2014-15 Falcons, 2016 Ravens
Wide receiver Torry Holt – 1999-2008 Rams, 2009 Jaguars
Wide receiver Andre Johnson – 2003-2014 Texans, 2015 Colts, 2016 Titans
Defensive end Robert Mathis – 2003-2016 Colts
Linebacker Sam Mills – 1986-1994 Saints, 1995-97 Panthers
Defensive lineman Richard Seymour – 2001-08 Patriots, 2009-2012 Raiders
Wide receiver Steve Smith – 2001-2013 Panthers, 2014-16 Ravens
Wide receiver/special teamer Steve Tasker – 1985-86 Oilers, 1986-1997 Bills
Running back Fred Taylor – 1998-2008 Jaguars, 2009-2010 Patriots
Linebacker Zach Thomas – 1996-2007 Dolphins, 2008 Cowboys
Wide receiver Hines Ward – 1998-2011 Steelers
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware – 2005-2013 Cowboys, 2014-16 Broncos
Running back Ricky Watters – 1992-94 49ers, 1995-97 Eagles, 1998-2001 Seahawks
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne – 2001-2014 Colts
Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork – 2004-2014 Patriots, 2015-16 Texans
Linebacker Patrick Willis – 2007-2014 49ers
Safety Darren Woodson – 1992-2003 Cowboys
Defensive tackle Bryant Young – 1994-2007 49ers

It's a very solid group that only serves to remind me how old I am getting, as most fo the players on this list are younger than I am, and I have most certainly watched all of them play in my adult lifetime. I'm not sure when it started to be this way for me (Full disclosure, I am 52 years old), and maybe it's Dre's presence on the ballot that has me scouring it more closely, but I just wanted to mention that. Ok, pouting done.

As for Andre Johnson's chances, if I were presenting him to the selection committed for voting "yea" or "nay," here are my four bullet points I would bring up, aside from the sheer volume of counting stats that Andre racked up — 11th all time in catches (1,062) and 11th all time in receiving yards (14,185):

1. Andre Johnson is the most decorated wide receiver still remaining on the ballot
The ultimate show of respect for a player is to be named to the All-Pro team. As a wide receiver, if you're named first team All Pro, it means you're one of the two best in the sport. If you're named second team All Pro, it means you're one of the four best. Andre Johnson is the only wide receiver on the ballot to be named first team All Pro more than once (2008, 2009), and among the wideouts remaining on the ballot, here s the count of combined first and second team All Pro berths:

ANDRE JOHNSON: 4 (two 1st team, two 2nd team)
REGGIE WAYNE: 3 (one 1st team, two 2nd team)
HINES WARD: 3 (three 2nd team)
TORRY HOLT: 2 (one 1st team, one 2nd team)
* STEVE SMITH: 2 (one 1st team, one 2nd team)
ANQUAN BOLDIN: 0

(* NOTE: Steve Smith was named to a third All Pro team, but as a kick returner, not a wide receiver.)

Here are the number of Pro Bowls each wide receiver was named to:

ANDRE JOHNSON: 7
TORRY HOLT: 7
REGGIE WAYNE: 6
STEVE SMITH: 5
HINES WARD: 4
ANQUAN BOLDIN: 3

Also, in addition to the overall counting stats of Johnson's career, he led the league win receptions and yards in 2008 and 2009, and in 2007 he led the league in yards per game, but only played in nine games, due to injury.

2. Unlike many of these wide receivers, Andre Johnson was never the beneficiary of elite QB play. In fact, most of his career, it was quite the opposite.
Torry Holt had Kurt Warner during his best seasons. Boldin had the Arizona version of Kurt Warner. Reggie Wayne had Peyton Manning. Hines Ward had Ben Roethlisberger in the back end of his career. Here are the quarterbacks that started the games in which Andre Johnson played in Johnson's twelve seasons as a Texan (* = Pro Bowl season for Johnson):

2003: David Carr 11, Tony Banks 3, Dave Ragone 2
* 2004: David Carr 16
2005: David Carr 13
* 2006: David Carr 16
2007: Matt Schaub 5, Sage Rosenfels 4
* 2008: Matt Schaub 11, Sage Rosenfels 5
* 2009: Matt Schaub 16
* 2010: Matt Schaub 13
2011: Matt Schaub 4, Matt Leinart 1, T.J. Yates 2
* 2012: Matt Schaub 16
* 2013: Matt Schaub 8, Case Keenum 8
2014: Ryan Fitzpatrick 11, Ryan Mallett 2, Case Keenum 2

3. Unlike many of these wide receivers, Andre Johnson never had another elite weapon playing alongside him in the passing game.
Torry Holt had Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce as his fellow wideout. Reggie Wayne had Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison. Anquan Boldin had future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. The best Johnson had was the first two seasons of DeAndre Hopkins, before Hopkins really blew up. Here are the Texans' best wide receivers NOT named Andre Johnson in Johnson's twelve seasons as a Texan:

2003: Corey Bradford (460 yards)
* 2004: Jabar Gaffney (632 yards)
2005: Jabar Gaffney (492 yards)
* 2006: Eric Moulds (557 yards)
2007: Kevin Walter (800 yards)
* 2008: Kevin Walter (899 yards)
* 2009: Kevin Walter (611 yards)
* 2010: Kevin Walter (621 yards)
2011: Kevin Walter (474 yards)
* 2012: Kevin Walter (518 yards)
* 2013: DeAndre Hopkins (802 yards)
2014: DeAndre Hopkins (1,210 yards)

4. Unlike all of these wide receivers, Andre Johnson didn't have to shoulder the load of an expansion team.
Johnson's former head coach, Gary Kubiak, put it best when he presented Andre Johnson for induction into the Houston Sports Hall of Fame, when he said that at times, we all have a cross to bear, and Andre Johnson had to bear the cross for the Houston Texans for virtually his entire career, because he was the face of a neophyte franchise, without no history and no other star players. That's a hard thing to quantify, but something that, articulated properly, should resonate with a selection committee, I would think.

And, as a bonus, I would remind the selection committee that Andre Johnson once beat the piss out of Cortland Finnegan, and if that doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you have no soul.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast