Andre Hal means a lot to me. I still remember years ago watching him shut down receivers every week in the SEC and dreaming of him becoming an anchor for the Texans’ secondary for the next decade. I even wrote a piece on Hal for “The Film Room” series, long before “The Film Room” became what it is today on YouTube. Hal was everything that I could have ever wanted in a Texans DB - tough, smart, technically sound, and always playing with something to prove. Honestly, you could even say that writing that piece was what helped inspire me to start that my Film Room channel in the first place. In a way, I partly owe my career to the man
Hal was drafted much later than I anticipated, somehow slipping all the way to the seventh round in 2014, but in the end I just knew that he would make the team anyway...and then of course he did. Hal switched positions from corner to safety and then led all Texans in interceptions as a rookie despite never even starting a single game that season. I felt vindicated in my evaluation, of course, but most importantly, I felt proud of Dre. He proved all of his doubters wrong more than he proved the Texans right for believing in him, and I respected the hell out of that never-give-up attitude.
Life was good for a while. Hal was a solid rotational safety that could be counted on to make a handful of game-changing plays a year. He more than justified the team’s investment in him as a Day Three draft pick. It appeared as though Hal would be with us for a long time as a “glue guy”, and he seemed more than happy to fulfill that role as the seasons went on.
But then out of nowhere, in the summer of 2018, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Hal’s status was uncertain. Nobody knew how long he would be away from the team, or if he would ever play again at all; but like all other things in Andre’s life, he attacked cancer with the same fury and dedication that he attacked the ball in the air. He beat that nasty son of a bitch in only four months and returned the field as not just a locker room leader, but as an inspiration for the entire Houston community itself.
I’ll never forget the feeling I had seeing Hal take the field for the first time after defying all of the odds (AGAIN) to get there. This was a seventh round pick from an under the radar program who switched positions three times, battled through injuries, and beat cancer to claw his way back onto that 100-yard long patch of grass - and despite only playing in half of the Texans’ games in 2018, he STILL managed to tie for the team lead in interceptions. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the man, I don’t know what does.
Andre Hal is an absolute f***ing warrior, and he deserves a long, healthy life in retirement. I will of course always be sad to see him no longer wearing Battle Red, but I can also confidently say that his career in Houston lived up to everything that I hoped it would be.
He was a worker, he was an advocate, and he was a leader...but most of all, Andre Hal was a Texan. Enjoy your next chapter, Andre.