FULL Video of Andre's Comments to the Media
Houston's NBC local news affiliate, KPRC, posted the full video of Andre meeting with the press just after he presented a $30,000 check to the Houston Area Women's Center from his charity golf tournament:
Tim Brown Interview on Houston's Sports Radio 610
Sports Radio 610's Mike Meltser and Seth Payne hosted a call with former All-Pro wide receiver Tim Brown, who played 16 seasons with the Raiders and finished his 17th and final season with the Buccaneers before retiring. Brown listened to the audio of Andre Johnson's public comments and then weighed in with his thoughts. Brown had a similar experience of being in Andre's shoes and playing for a new head coach late in your career:
Mike Meltser; "Tim, you’ve heard it. It’s different when you read stuff and you hear it. What do you think of all that?"
Tim Brown; "Wow! Wow! Wow! I think that is something. You don’t put that out there like that. I hate to see him going through that. I can relate a little bit with the Raiders during my time, we didn’t have a lot of success. I found solace in the fact that I had a great relationship with the Raider Nation, with the fans there, and I played for them. They loved me, I loved them, and that was my inspiration to stick around.
I had a couple of opportunities to leave. I did sign with Denver in ’94, but the Raiders matched the deal. After that, I had a couple of opportunities to leave and I chose not to.
It’s tough, it’s tough. I hear what he’s saying, but man, once you put it out there like that; people are going to think you’re giving up on the team, or that you are at least thinking of giving up on the team. Then if you drop a ball or something, boy it’s just not the situation you want to find yourself in, especially late in your career."
I think the fans in Houston love 'Dre far too much to think these things. Other NFL teams' fans can be more critical of some players. A minority of some Houston fans booed Matt Schaub when he was gifting touchdowns to the opponent with pick-6's, but I just don't see 'Dre getting treated that way here. Then again, I probably can't rule out anything these days.
Meltser; "Tim, what would you tell Andre if you could talk to him?"
Brown; "Well I would have hoped to have gotten to him before he said something publicly like that. At this particular point, either he is going to have to come out and apologize, or he’s going to have to leave town. Because he has put himself in a situation that it is going to be very, very difficult for the fans. If he doesn’t run the right route, or he doesn’t get open and they see him being dejected on the sidelines, it’s going to be tough. It’s going to make for a tough, tough year for him. Like he said, he’s at the end of his career and hadn’t won that much down there.
With the way he played last year, the injuries and everything, it may be very difficult for a team to bring him in at the position he’s in right now. He may have to come in as the third or fourth receiver, and I don’t know if he’s willing to go do that."
I think Tim Brown must be thinking of the 2011 season when 'Dre was injured. His performance the last two seasons was outstanding. Brown may have a point that other teams might have trouble fitting him into the lineup, especially this late after free agency and after the draft.
Seth Payne; "Tim, I look at your career, and as you’re entering the second decade of your career, I think in 1998 1999; you guys hadn’t been to the playoffs in a few years. The difference back then was there might have been maybe one mandatory veteran mini-camp in the spring. I wonder with this, with Andre coming off a 2-14 season, without a franchise quarterback to speak of right now; in my opinion, he’s doing some soul searching and he’s just kind of thinking about it. I don’t know if it would have come to a head if it hadn’t been for the fact that he’s missing some of the OTA’s (organized team activities). Back when we were younger, back in our day, it wasn’t that big of a deal when vets missed out. Do you think some of this gets blown up, and it could just be the normal things that are going on and they’ll bring him back into the fold and they’ll have these conversations, and it’s out there in the media because there’s just so much more scrutiny these days?"
Brown; "Yeah, it’s a tough situation, especially getting older in the league and getting new coaches in. That’s the problem. For me, I can remember my last year with the Raiders; when Norv Turner took over, I was going into year seventeen. I certainly didn’t want to have to go through all these mini-camps and all that stuff. I was told early on ‘don’t worry about it,’ but I didn’t realize they were telling me not to worry about it because they were getting rid of me.
It’s a difficult process, because you want to be there, you want to show the coaching staff you’re ‘in’, but as you get older in the league you have to take care of your body too and make sure that you’re prepared for training camp and the rigorous schedule of the NFL season. It’s tough, no doubt about it.
Andre is a veteran, he’s a pro, and he should know how to handle all these situations by now."
Seth makes a great point that a veteran missing these spring activities is not the end of the world. With media access and the immediate availability of information, the public knows a lot of information almost real time. Andre clearly said he has been in contact with the team, and I have confidence that whatever options have been outlined for him are the things that he is considering at this time.
Meltser; "Tim, I’m curious of your perspective on this: Bill O’Brien, the new head coach here did something interesting. Around Reliant Stadium during the Gary Kubiak, and I’m assuming Dom Capers era also, they had these posters around the building and various meeting rooms, and they could be players on the team now or before; and it would be like ‘Mario Williams: NFL Defensive Player of the Week’ and just go through individual accomplishments. Bill O’Brien came in and he took all of those posters down. If you were Andre Johnson, even though it might be a minor thing, would something like that bother you?"
Brown; "Yes, Yes. Certainly it would. I’m still part of the team. I can understand guys who are not part of the team anymore, but I’m a part of the team. Anybody who’s still part of the team, I think they should still be up there.
Look, these college coaches, man. I know Bill was in the NFL, and he had some time in the NFL, and did well in the NFL with the Patriots, but sometimes this mentality ‘you’re going to do it my way, or the highway’ is not something that works in an NFL locker-room. You have to be cognizant that you have grown men, you have men married with kids and it’s impossible to treat them like you treat 18, 19 and 20 year old kids."
I would hope O'Brien knows to treat veterans with all due respect, and that he recognizes the difference between college kids, rookie NFL players, and seasoned veterans. Then again, we do see things like the team practicing without logos on helmets and without names on jerseys. That's a common approach with the "you have to earn it" model used in some high schools and colleges. It also sounds a bit like the way Bill Belichick runs the Patriots, so it's not entirely surprising if O'Brien is molding that style into his program here.
I'm not sure Andre cares a lot about posters on the walls, but maybe it is just one more visual reminder and observation of all of the dramatic changes taking place. Just a few of these changes include:
- Front Office Staff (all except Rick Smith)
- Coaching Staff (all except DL coach and ST coach)
- Offensive Scheme/System
- Defensive Scheme/System
- Weight room facility layout and Strength & Conditioning program overhaul
- Look and feel of the facilities, removing any semblance of the past, including banners of star players, individual recognition items, and so on.
The world has basically turned completely upside down over at Texans HQ. This isn’t just adding a new coach and a few players. This is a foundational change to the day-in and day-out life of the player’s experience as O'Brien creates his version of the Houston Texans. Given this much change, it's reasonable that a veteran like Andre, who has already been through this before, might give pause to consider if he wants to invest his heart, body and mind in this team for a third regime; invest his remaining years in another team that may have a more obvious chance at winning; or to retire from the NFL completely.
He isn't the first veteran NFL player to struggle with this, as Tim Brown pointed out in his comments, and as we considered similarities to Barry Sanders yesterday. I certainly hope 'Dre chooses to reinvest in the Texans wholheartedly, and that we win a championship before he retires.
Share your thoughts on this as we continue to see how this whole thing plays out.