HOUSTON - Andre Johnson, one of the best and most beloved Texans of all time, signed a one-day contract Wednesday and officially retired as a member of the team.
"I’ve been playing this game of football since I was 6 years old. So many people have affected me throughout this journey," Johnson said.
Johnson admitted he had no idea what to expect when he was drafted by Houston in 2003.
“The city of Houston embraced me, they embraced me like no other. They welcomed me with open arms and I’m very thankful for that," he said. "My heart never left this place."
Johnson got choked up -- and so did many in the room -- when he thanked his mom.
“Everything I did was because of you, Johnson said. "You’ve been there for me every step of the way. I thank you for your advice, I thank you for your love. And even when I felt like I had no one to talk to, I could always come to you.”
Johnson also thanked his Texan teammates.
“I would give anything to go back on the field with you guys, to go back to battle with you guys.”
He said he'll always cherish his memories as a Texan -- the good and the bad.
“I like being the underdog. I took the challenge and I did everything I could to put this organization on the map. Whether it was playing injured, you were going to have to drag me off the field to keep me from playing."
Johnson was drafted third overall by the Texans in 2003 and played the first 12 years of his career with the team.
He went on to catch 1,012 passes for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns in 12 years with the team. He never really got much of a chance to compete in the playoffs, but in his four career playoff games, he averaged 6.25 catches and 89.5 yards per game.
He is the franchise's all-time leading receiver in terms of receptions, yards, and touchdowns.
Johnson ended up leaving the team following the 2014 season, spending 2015 with the Colts and 2016 with the Titans, but he couldn't find success with those two teams. In the past two seasons, Johnson caught just 50 passes for 588 yards and six touchdowns. In October, it was first reported that Johnson was done playing after his unsuccessful stint with the Titans..
Still, when looking back over at Johnson's 14-year career, his numbers are remarkable. He's 11th all-time in receptions and receiving yards. He's a seven-time Pro Bowler, a two-time first-team All-Pro, and a likely Hall of Famer.
Well-played, Andre. You will be missed.
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