Vandermeer's View: Goodbye #80


The big moments keep playing in my mind.

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, the unforgettable helicopter end zone catch against Minnesota in 2004. And what about the overtime game winner against the Jags in 2012? Or the two toe-tappers vs. the Cardinals in 2013.

And the kids. The Christmas shopping sprees making so many so happy.

And my kid, crying when he saw the goodbye. At nine years old, he's only known a world with #80 making plays in a Texans jersey. I told him this happens in sports. Jerry Rice didn't finish up with the 49ers.

It didn't matter. It's over. It hurts.

When I first heard the news, the first play that popped into my head was from the 2001 season Rose Bowl. The touchdown bomb that got the party started. He would put up 199 receiving yards and win the MVP and a National Championship ring that night. I was lucky enough to get a ring too. As the voice of the Hurricanes, along for the ride.

I've been lucky enough to be part of the Andre Johnson experience for a long time. At an August, 1999 scrimmage at the University of Miami, I was being introduced as voice of the team. He was redshirting. I didn't know that I would call 179 games of his 191 game college and pro career, missing only his last collegiate season as I started with the Texans in 2002.

The great ones make the extraordinary look almost effortless. That's Andre Johnson. Smooth yet explosive. At times it almost looked as if he were jogging, yet he's running by defenders, getting wide open.

He'll go down in history as one of the greatest athletes to ever play in this city. The era ends and the team moves on. The memories will last forever as we express gratitude for so many incredible moments.

And for the consistency. Showing up every Sunday, making plays, putting smiles on faces and making us proud to be Texans.

Andre Johnson was a Texans receiver from the 2003 to 2014 seasons.

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