Being the newest team in the NFL, the Houston Texans have yet to officially retire any numbers. However, since J.J. Watt has now left the franchise, it’s time they look at commemorating their greatest players to date.
In the two decades since their inception, the Texans have been lucky enough to have had some exceptional players. Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Arian Foster, Duane Brown, Brock Osweiler (Sorry, cheap shot), and so on. That being said, each decade has easily been highlighted by one player.
Andre Johnson may not be the biggest fan of the Texans at this time, but the fact is he was easily the best player on that roster throughout the 2000s. A player with a rare combination of size, speed, and strength, Johnson was the first Texan to become a multiple-time All-Pro/Pro Bowler, and still holds the franchise record for Pro Bowl seasons.
Ultimately, Johnson helped put the team on the map.
Having signed a one-day contract to retire a Texan back in 2017, next year Johnson will be eligible for the Hall of Fame. As such, it feels only right that before becoming a first-ballot entry (Bold, but correct prediction) he has his number retired by the franchise he called home for 12 years.
A seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Johnson racked up seven 1,000+ receiving yard seasons reaching a total of 13,597 receiving yards and 64 touchdowns in his Texans career. Johnson led the league in receptions and receiving yards twice, and in receiving yards per game and scrimmage yards per touch three times.
As it stands, Johnson is still 11th in league history in total receiving yards (14,185) and total receptions (1,062).
Since leaving the Texans in 2015, nobody has worn No. 80, and for all he did as a Texan, Johnson deserves to have his number retired.
Watt’s accomplishments cannot be overstated. Only he, Aaron Donald, and Lawrence Taylor have won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year title three times. A two-time league leader in sacks, a three-time leader in tackles for loss, and once in forced fumbles, Watt has battled through multiple injuries to reach five Pro Bowls and five first-team All-Pro selections.
In fact, he remains the only player since 1982 to reach 20+ sacks in a single season twice. A Walter Payton Man of the Year winner, he was the focal point of the Texans' defense throughout the 2010s and much like Johnson was often a beacon of hope throughout the tougher years.
Here are just some of Watt’s records, according to the Texans:
- "Became the fourth-fastest player in NFL history to total 100.0 sacks when he did so in his 120th career game"
- "Became the first player in NFL history with at least 150 career tackles for loss and 100.0 sacks in their first 120 games"
- "The only player in NFL history with 20-or-more sacks and 10-or-more passes defensed in the same season, which he accomplished twice (2012, 2014)”
Given that Watt is still only 31 and is now a member of the Arizona Cardinals, it seems unlikely No. 99 will be retired any time soon. That being said, the Texans should do the right thing and do so unofficially until he (hopefully) signs a one-day contract to retire a Texan once his career comes to a close.
Off The Field
Each player epitomized their respective decades and helped the franchise garner reputability despite its lack of rings.
Not only this, but their respective accomplishments off the field through philanthropic activities should never be forgotten.
For example, alongside the founding of his charitable foundation, there were Johnson's annual trips to Toys R Us, where he "enabled 12 underserved youth from Harris County's Department of Family Protective Services to pick out holiday gifts."
READ MORE: Texans Keep David Johnson: The Right Move?
Combine these and many more accomplishments, and there can be no denying that both are worthy of having their names immortalized at NRG Stadium.
And while they may want to wait until fans can return to stadiums in order to conduct any accompanying ceremonies, it’s time the franchise looks to commemorate these two greats for everything they did for both the Texans and the city of Houston.