For the second straight year, Andre Johnson is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
If you saw him play with the Texans over the 12-season span from 2003 through 2014, you saw sustained excellence. He was the focal point of the offense, and very often, the best player on the field.
But how does Johnson stack up compared to the 10 players with more career receiving yards? When he hung up his cleats and retired in 2016, he finished with 14,185 career receiving yards. Only 10 players in the history of the league have more.
Seven of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the three who aren't—Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Sr. and Reggie Wayne—also deserve gold jackets.
In order from the top, Jerry Rice (22,895), Fitzgerald (17,492), Terrell Owens (15,934), Randy Moss (15,292), Isaac Bruce (15,208), Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Tim Brown (14,934), Smith (14,731), Marvin Harrison (14,580) and Wayne (14,345) are the ones ahead of him in receiving yards.
Over his 14 years, Johnson was good for 5.5 receptions and 73.5 yards per contest. That's better than Fitzgerald, Owens, Moss, Bruce, Gonzalez, Brown, Smith and Wayne. (It's also remarkable that Gonzalez, a tight end, is on this list.) Only Rice and Harrison had better per-game averages. That's it.
Other than a couple 1,000-yard rushing season from Domanick Davis (now Williams), Johnson WAS the offense in Houston during that span. He spent 2015 with Andrew Luck and the Colts, and 2016 with a Titans club quarterbacked by Marcus Mariota and Matt Cassel.
Over the course of his Texans career, Johnson caught passes from David Carr, Tony Banks, Dave Ragone, Matt Schaub, Sage Rosenfels, T.J. Yates, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Ryan Mallett. Those nine signal-callers played a combined 84 NFL seasons and were selected to a combined two Pro Bowls. Schaub went in 2009 and 2012.
By comparison, save for Gonzalez, Brown and Smith, the other seven receivers in that Top 10 all spent at least one season catching passes from a quarterback who would one day get enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Smith played three seasons with a quarterback who went to the Pro Bowl, while Brown and Gonzalez both caught passes for five seasons each with a Pro Bowler at quarterback.
We could go on and on about the reasons why Johnson is deserving of a gold jacket.
But just keep in mind some of the things listed above that he wound up doing better than some of the players above him on the all-time receiving yards list. Also keep in mind the collective success and talent of the teams those other players were on, and imagine what Johnson's career numbers might have looked like if he swapped spots with those pass-catchers.
Ultimately, Andre Johnson belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.