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Red Zone Play: Hal of Fame

If he can beat cancer, he can beat anything.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

On May 30th, 1992, Andre Jeroy Hal Jr entered the world, destined to play football. As a four year starter in high school, Hal helped lead his team to the Louisiana state playoffs while also serving as the third fastest player in the nation on a state championship track team.

By his senior year in college, Hal led the Vanderbilt defense and ranked #1 in the SEC for passes defenses in the 2013 season.

When the NFL Draft rolled around in 2014, Hal sat and waited… and waited… and waited some more.

Then on the final day, with the 216th overall pick, the Houston Texans used their 7th rounder to take Hal, much to the disinterest of anyone still watching the draft in the final moments.

Hal began his life in Texas as a cornerback, buried on the depth chart behind Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, A.J. Bouye and Elbert Mack. By the 2015 season, Hal moved to safety and his day in the sun arrived. He started 11 games at free safety, racked up 36 total tackles, ten pass deflections, four interceptions, a touchdown, and a partridge in a pair tree… okay, maybe not that last part. But it was clear Hal was coming into his own at the end of the 2015 campaign.

In 2016, Hal’s first full year as a starter, he helped the Texans make it to the second round of the NFL Playoffs. He did all he could to win against the New England Patriots, putting up six tackles, two pass deflections, and an interception before the Texans ultimately lost that game.

Riding into 2017 the hopes for Hal were high. Just prior to the start of the regular season, the Texans re-signed Hal to a lucrative contract extension. He repaid the team with 71 tackles, five deflections, and three interceptions as the team suffered through a 4-12 season, mainly due to catastrophic injuries to J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, Whitney Mercilus and others.

On June 6, 2018, just as hopes were on the rise for the coming season, Hal was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer many feared would be career ending.

Hal responded miraculously to treatment and his cancer was declared to be in remission less than four months later. Hal took the field again on October 21, 2018, just a few days after he lost his father to a heart attack.

Andre Hal:

“During pregame warmup, just looked up and thanked God and thanked my dad. [My Dad] passed last Tuesday and I know he wanted me back on that field so just to get back on the field for him, it was great.”

Now, Hal is preparing to hit the field again alongside second year safety Justin Reid and newly signed Teshaun Gipson, creating a safety trio arguably stronger than Houston has ever had before.

While uncertainty is still swirling around the Texans’ cornerback room, offensive line, and a few other position groups, as long as Hal has anything to say about it, fans can rest assured the safety group is on lock. If cancer can’t prevent Hal from being the best teammate he can be, what hope does any opposing player have?

J.J. Watt

“It’s unbelievable. He’s been an inspiration ever since the day he found out. The thing about Dre is that he’ll never let you know when anything is wrong. He’s always got a positive attitude. He’s always got an incredibly driven mindset. I told him he’s one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever played with. Just comes to work every single day with a smile on his face and ready to work.”

Think Hal is a highlight? Give us your thoughts on him, the Houston safety group, and more in the comments box!

UPDATE: What were the odds this would happen? Less than three hours after this post was published, Andre Hal announced his retirement from the NFL.