Every Texans fan has an Andre Johnson story.
When someone is a part of your life for over a decade, it is only natural that a few special memories are made during that time.
Whether it was one of his 64 touchdowns, or one of the memorable moments he made off the field, the emotion we all feel towards #80 as Texans fans will always hit close to home. That connection is what makes the announcement of Wednesday's retirement ceremony all the more special for anyone that has ever rooted for the team. I've only been a part of the Texans organization for four years, so I cannot possibly have the same perspective as many of you reading this, but it doesn't take long for Andre Johnson to have an effect on you.
My Andre Johnson story is a little unique, but in it are all the traits that make him larger than life in the city of Houston. Let me explain.
Before I ever stepped foot in NRG Stadium, I worked at the Southeastern Conference. Like most college football fans, Andre Johnson was instantly identified as a key cog in the unstoppable Miami Hurricane machines of the late 90's and early 2000s. I remembered him mostly for being named MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl, and being all but unstoppable in the open field during his days at "U". Other than those on campus flashbacks, I didn't know much else about him.
That all changed once the SanInocencio family (wife, 3-year old son and 3-month old daughter) made our way to Houston to join the Texans organization back in 2013. When my son asked us for his first ever Texans jersey, me and my wife didn't hesitate to get him #80.
Later that season, the first game my son and daughter ever attended was against the Tennessee Titans. It was a Liberty White Out contest, and many of you may remember then rookie DeAndre Hopkins catching the game winning touchdown in overtime. Andre Johnson got hurt in the fourth quarter of that game, but still had a solid eight catch performance. However, three hours before, he took a few seconds out of his day to make a lifetime memory for me.
I was lucky enough to be able to see my family in the hour before kickoff that day. We were all still learning our way around the stadium, trying to become familiar with the routines of a gameday at NRG. As fate would have it, my son, dressed in his new Andre Johnson jersey, met up with me right outside the Texans locker room as the wide receivers were heading out for warmups. At that moment, my son's eyes immediately turned to the group of players that were 10 feet from him. A second later, my son, all three feet tall of him at the time, slowly creeped up to get a closer view as the guys jogged past.
In that midst of that crowd, one player came over to slap his hand. After that brief interaction, the player nodded, pointed to Deric's jersey and trotted off down the tunnel. It was maybe five seconds tops, and no words were spoken, but the moment perfectly encapsulated exactly who Andre Johnson is. Never outspoken, always humble, yet keenly aware of how he could make a difference in someone's life.
I'll never forget what my son said to me.
"Dad, who was that?"
I laughed. I told him, "That was Andre Johnson, one of the greatest Texans to ever play the game. Also, he's the guy whose jersey you're wearing!"
Four years later, that still rings true. #ThankYouAndre
Do you have a favorite Andre Johnson moment? Be sure to record a video telling us about your moment using #ThankYouAndre on Twitter. Keep it under 60 seconds, share it with us and we'll select some of the best ones. You could be featured on HoustonTexans.com!
Andre Johnson was a Texans receiver from the 2003 to 2014 seasons.