From 2006 to 2013 while playing for the Houston Texans, no wide receiver in the NFL had more receiving yards than Andre Johnson. His 9,855 yards were more than the totals of other elite pass catchers around the league including Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, and Steve Smith.
During the first 12 years of his NFL career, the argument for Johnson to be regarded as one of the league’s best receivers was not a hard case to make. But that was never something anyone heard come from Johnson’s mouth.
Playing during an era that featured a bunch of loudmouth, diva receivers like Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson, Andre Johnson just went about his business and let his play on the field do the talking for him.
“I just don’t get caught up in who gets the most attention. It’s not that I don’t care or don’t have an opinion, I’m just not the kind of person who really worries about that kind of thing.”
At an early age, Johnson excelled with the football in his hands. As a top high school recruit from Miami, Florida, he eventually decided to stay close to home and play college ball at the University of Miami.
He did not see the field much in during his freshman season in 2000. But the following year, the entire nation began to learn of the great talent possessed by Johnson.
As a sophomore at Miami in 2001, he finished the year with 10 touchdowns and he followed that season up in 2002 by hauling in nine touchdowns and averaging 21 yards per catch.
Despite his success at the school, Johnson was actually never named to an All-American team. However, that did not really seem to matter to the Texans in 2003 when they drafted the receiver with the third overall pick.
Houston really just could not resist passing on a player like Johnson. At 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, he had the tools to do it all when he stepped out on the field. Johnson could catch a short screen pass and take it to the house or he could leap over an opposing cornerback and snatch the football out the air.
He played well during his first few seasons with the Texans. But 2006 was the year in which Johnson really came into his own and established himself as one of the best in the NFL at his position.
That year he finished with a league leading 103 catches to go with his 1,147 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
This was the first of five different times during his career that he ended a season with at least 100 receptions. Only Brandon Marshall has had more years (six) with 100 catches or more in the history of the league.
“Jerry Rice is acknowledged as the best receiver in football. I’ll say this, Andre had as much talent as Jerry Rice, he just didn’t play for the 49ers with a Super Bowl team and Hall of Fame quarterbacks in their prime. He’s as good as Jerry Rice, in my opinion, in all areas, including work ethic.”
Charlie Casserly, former Texans GM
The 2008 season was a special one for Johnson as he was named a First-Team All-Pro following a year that saw him catch 115 passes for 1,575 yards and eight touchdowns. The receiver was given the honor again for the second and final time in his career after another standout season in 2009.
During that two year stretch, Johnson was pretty much unstoppable out on the field.
Unfortunately, his success did not translate to his team experiencing a similar fate as well. Johnson was only able to experience the playoffs twice in his career and the teams he played on ended their year with a last place division finish on five different occasions.
So he may not have had the Madden covers or the lucrative endorsement deals that smothered him in front of the public eye. But Johnson did not mind because he was brought into the league to do a job and boy did he do that job well.