Johnathan Joseph strode to the back of the locker room where I stood waiting for him. He had just picked off a Nathan Peterman pass, which he returned for the game-winning touchdown against the Bills in 2018. The win was the third in a row in what would be a nine-game winning streak that season. I was so pumped to pick his brain as to what happened on that play. He was all smiles, shaking hands and hugging everyone on his way through the locker room to me. We even chatted and laughed about it as well but the second I hit record on the phone, J-Joe, as he was affectionately known, turned stone-faced and serious.
He always knew when it was time to ball.
It's one of the things that I loved about Joseph. He always had a kind word, a smile, a greeting, a hand shake for EVERYONE in the building, but when it was time to go, he dialed in like few I've seen. After some really tough losses, he would be the one to step up and join me for a post game player interview. He never said no because he understood that I had a job to do and he could help. Furthermore, because I played in the secondary many eons ago, I was always curious about him on the field. I often wondered what he saw on the field. How did he know what was happening? The perfect example came in that interview after the win over the Bills.
I asked him what he saw and how that lead to the pick six.
He said: "In the huddle, I told Ty (former Texans/current Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu) that if he (Peterman) threw that route again, I'm going to pick it."
On the first play of that fateful drive, Peterman threw toward the Texans sideline hoping to move the Bills down the field for a game-winning score. He came back with the exact same route, and J-Joe made him pay.
Not surprisingly, Joseph saw things most players didn't see. I can't tell you the number of players over the years that said that Joseph was the first person they found on the sideline to discuss what had happened on the field. Receivers. Quarterbacks. Fellow defensive backs. Coaches, too. They wanted, well, in all honesty, needed Joseph's input.
He never shied away from having a word with the opponent on the field. He was tough as nails. He played hurt a bunch. He was the epitome of what a Texan was supposed to be.
Interestingly enough, many didn't want Joseph as a Texan back in 2011. Well, it wasn't so much not wanting him as much as it was wanting someone else. Ten years ago, the crown free agent prince cornerback that nearly every Texan fan wanted was Nnamdi Asomugha. Now, there's been plenty of revisionist history for a lot of Texans fans that'll say they wanted J-Joe all along but, trust me, I didn't and don't forget. When the Texans didn't sign Asomugha, the vitriol for the front office was intense. Within months, though, that vitriol turned silent as fans saw Joseph go to work. 12 months later, he was a Pro Bowl selection. 12 months after that he went to the Pro Bowl again, having established himself as a pillar in Houston. Ten years later, Joseph retired as a fan favorite for many, present company included.