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Closer to Canton | Andre Johnson named Hall of Fame finalist

We're one step closer. Around Thanksgiving, when Andre Johnson was announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist, I thought 'first hurdle cleared.'

Now that he's a finalist, the adrenaline is really flowing. Super Bowl week, we find out.

Michael Irvin, who went to his Alma Mater and has a gold jacket said years ago that Johnson should be in. "You look at all the great receivers that ever played this game, the guys who will have that gold jacket one day like he will - usually, their quarterbacks get gold jackets too. I'm in there; Jerry Rice is in there. Andre Johnson, that was a different situation. He will have the gold jacket. His ability raised up other people and made them play great."

He filled his 12 Texans seasons with unforgettable moments. We remember all the catches. The 4th-and-10s. The one against Washington in 2010 and the one on the winning drive against Miami in 2008. And, of course, the unearthing of three defenders in Arizona in 2009 and the spectacular helicopter end zone catch against Minnesota in 2004.

Let's not forget about the touchdown against Cincinnati in the playoffs in 2011, the long-awaited arrival in the postseason end zone for a player who worked so hard to get there. And the overtime game winner against the Jags in 2012. Or the two toe-tappers vs. the Cardinals in 2013. There were so many, too many to mention here.

For his career he was the number one threat for Houston. Former Texans GM Charley Casserly noted "It's third down. The whole stadium knows who's getting the ball. He's double-covered, and Andre Johnson would find a way to catch the ball and run after the catch."

Now it's up to the committee. When they look closely they'll see that Irvin is right, he lifted up his teammates. He influenced them. He made game-changing plays and he was inspirational in how he conducted himself as a player.

Prior to Johnson's 2017 Ring of Honor ceremony Kevin Walter said "I definitely looked up to Dre. I learned a lot from Andre. He's definitely one of a kind, and I was very fortunate enough to play next to him for seven years."

And Gary Kubiak added that Johnson was highly influential in the locker room and practice field. "All we had to do was say watch this guy work. He was a tremendous worker. Didn't say a lot but showed his teammates every single day how you should go about your business."

The numbers are there. Yes, there are others with similar statistical accomplishments. But he was the Texans' brightest star for so long and his overall resume speaks for itself.

Check out the 80 best photos of Andre Johnson throughout his Houston Texans career.

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