HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Andre Johnson returned to where it all began on Wednesday. The 14-year veteran inked a one-day 2017 player contract with the Houston Texans at a ceremony in the press box of NRG Stadium so that he can officially retire from the NFL with the team that drafted him in 2003.
The press event was well past capacity of the press box with Texans coaches, players past and present and members of the front office all attended in an event to honor the greatest Houston Texan of all time.
The Texans showed a highlight video of some Johnson’s most memorable moments before signing the contract which General Manager Rick Smith made clear was an authentic single day contract for the 2017 season.
Johnson began his remarks by thanking the McNair family, including Cal who was present on the dais, and the entire Texans organization before breaking down momentarily when thanking his mother Karen.
“Everything I did on that field was because of you,” Johnson said to his mother before pausing overcome by emotion when talking about the sacrifices she made for Johnson. “I played the game very angry and the reason I played that was because of the way I grew up. I just never wanted to go back to living that lifestyle again.”
It was a pleasant homecoming for Johnson. After playing 12 seasons for the Texans through the 2014 season he moved on to play a season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2015 and eight games in with the Tennessee Titans last season.
“My heart never left this place,” Johnson said when mentioning his signing with other teams. “I could never imagine myself wearing a Colts or a Titans uniform but you know it happen that’s the nature of this business.”
Johnson spent a lot of time addressing the players in the room including former teammates Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and JJ Watt.
“I would give anything to go back on the field with you guys,” Johnson said to his former teammates. “Those memories I’ll never forget. The good times and the bad times. Battling in games, times we were out, people counted out and we proved everybody wrong.
Johnson said his biggest regret was never bringing a Super Bowl title to Houston, but he put the challenge on them to get him some jewelry.
“I’m going to challenge you guys because I couldn’t help this organization get a world championship, so I want you guys to help get me a ring,” Johnson joked.
The Texans will honor Johnson in some way during the season but General Manager Rick Smith said the discussions as to how and when that will take place are still ongoing.
Before closing out his press conference he spent time thanking the fans for their support through the years and into retirement.
“The love I have been getting has been amazing,” Johnson said addressing the Texans fans. “I came home and I’ve retired, and I know that’s what you guys have wanted. It’s finally done.”
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio