With this being the calm before the training camp storm, the Houston Texans chose to announce that the greatest player in the history of the franchise (okay, he's in a virtual tie with J.J. Watt), Andre Johnson, would be locally immortalized with induction into the Houston Texans Ring of Honor on November 19 when the Texans face the Arizona Cardinals.
Inadvertently, perhaps, this also served as the announcement that the Texans would actually HAVE a Ring of Honor, seeing as how there had been no previous inkling on how the Texans would handle the canonization of their all-time great players. (It, um...how can I put this delicately...immortalizing all-time greats has not been a front-burner issue for the team in its first 15 seasons.)
The induction of Johnson sets the current bar such that only one other player in team history, J.J. Watt, can be classified as a "no brainer." The bar is set high. Needless to say, though, others, all likely below Johnson on the talent and accomplishment scales, will be inducted over the next few years.
Let's take a look and place odds on current and former Houston Texans getting inducted into the team's Ring of Honor someday...
ANDRE JOHNSON, WR (2003-2014): IN
J.J. WATT, DE (2011-present) ... -20,000
At this point, the only thing that keeps J.J. Watt out of the Texans Ring of Honor would be his involvement in something completely scandalous, or the team moving to some city in Tennessee, changing its name, and his winding up in the new team's Ring of Honor.
DUANE BROWN, OT (2008-present) ... -450
Brown is the only Houston Texan with longer tenure than Andre Johnson had, as he enters his tenth year this season. Unless this current contract dispute gets VERY personal, Brown should go in shortly after he calls it quits, especially if he retires having played only as a Houston Texan.
BRIAN CUSHING, LB (2009-present) ... -150
I'd make Cushing's eventual induction a slight favorite, based partially on productivity, largely on longevity and certainly on the fondness that everyone in the building at all levels obviously has for him. To be fair, had it not been for two catastrophic knee injuries, Cushing might be working on multiple Pro Bowls right now.
WHITNEY MERCILUS, OLB (2012-present) ... +350
If you think Mercilus is on the cusp of going from good player to Pro Bowler for a few seasons, then +350 is probably pretty good value. Mercilus is still at an age (like some of the others listed below) where a few really deep playoff runs can elevate his individual stature for honors like this.
JONATHAN JOSEPH, CB (2011-present) ... +250
Joseph is the best cornerback in the history of the team, and his play has ranged from solid in recent years to Pro Bowl level his first two seasons as a Texan. He didn't begin his career as a Texan, so it will be interesting to see if that affects the team's overall assessment of his body of work. In the end, I see him as an underdog to get in.
JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE (2014-present) ... +100
Here is basically just a 50/50 bet that Clowney will a) stay healthy enough to become great, and b) remain a Texan through his prime years. If both of those things happen, he is a shoo-in.
DeANDRE HOPKINS, WR (2013-present) ... -110
If you believe that Hopkins will come to a long-term agreement to become a Texan, then you should fire on this bet, because he is on track to threaten all of Johnson's team receiving records.
KAREEM JACKSON, CB (2010-present) ... +1500
He goes into the Ring of the Very Solid (which is the stepbrother of the Hall of the Very Good).
KEVIN JOHNSON, CB (2015-present) ... +1000
I think Johnson's ceiling is at Joseph's level, maybe higher. The issue for him is health. Obviously, there is a ton of speculating you'll need to do if you want to bet on these younger players.
SHANE LECHLER, P (2013-present) ... +1000
If he were a career Texan, he'd be a shoo-in, but he spent his first decade and change in the NFL with the Raiders. That said, Lechler can probably punt until he's 70, so maybe he will be viewed as more of a Texan than a Raider by the 2030s.
ARIAN FOSTER, RB (2009-2015) ... +150
I would put Foster in, but I don't know how stringent the line of demarcation is going to be. At his peak, Foster was every bit the running back that Johnson was a receiver, but injuries derailed multiple seasons and cut his volume numbers short, although his per game numbers are some of the best in the history of the league.
DeMECO RYANS, LB (2006-2011) ... +200
Another could-have-been-great whose Texans trajectory changed with injuries. His torn Achilles in 2010 was the death blow for a defense that was already pretty poor. Possibly the best leader in the history of the franchise, Ryans' induction would be met with great approval by Texan fans.
MARIO WILLIAMS, DE (2006-2011) ... +1200
Tough to put a guy in that you let walk in free agency in his prime, and, honestly, my guess is Williams couldn't give a rat's behind if he gets into the Ring of Honor.
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CHRIS MYERS, C (2008-2014) ... +300
Myers is the DeMeco Ryans of the offensive side of the ball, although probably with even more of the overachiever gene — he was a great leader who was subtly instrumental in helping the smooth transition from Gary Kubiak to Bill O'Brien. Myers went to a couple of Pro Bowls and was the brains of the offensive line in the Texans' most productive years offensively.
OWEN DANIELS, TE (2006-2013) ... +750
The best tight end in the history of the team, he probably has his name etched next to Kareem Jackson's in the Ring of the Very Solid.
MATT SCHAUB, QB (2007-2013) ... +2500
I'm not sure any player went from "virtual lock" for something like the Ring of Honor to "banished from anywhere inside the city limits" faster than Schaub did in 2013. The only way I see him getting in is if the Texans win a Super Bowl, and then the entire city forgives him, like Bill Buckner in Boston back in 2004.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.