HOUSTON - Houston Texans officials and die-hard fans gathered Wednesday afternoon to welcome wide receiver Andre Johnson back to the team. After signing a one-day contract which allows him to retire as a member of the organization, Johnson gave an emotional speech, thanking the organization, teammates and family members.
"My career ends here. I am very excited that I was able to come back home to Houston to do it," he said.
A video reel highlighting Johnson's greatest moments was shown during the news conference held in the player's honor at NRG Stadium.
Afterward, Johnson talked about his love for the game, his love for the organization and his love for his family who has been his motivation and support system.
Johnson said he "played angry" while on the field, remembering the tough times he and his mother, Karen Johnson, endured when he was growing up. He thanked her for being a loving and dedicated mother, remembering how she would fall asleep in her car, tired after getting out of night school, and still waiting on young Johnson to finish Little League practice.
He thanked his "Uncle Andre" for being the father figure he needed, and guiding him throughout his career and his life.
He thanked the McNair family for believing in him and thanked his teammates for being warriors with him on the field.
"I love you guys, my teammates, I would give anything to go back to battle with you," Johnson said. "Those are memories I will never forget. The good times and the bad times."
His only regret, he said, was not being able to help them bring home a world championship, but he wished them well for the seasons to come.
Johnson wiped back tears, and received a standing ovation as his friends, family and supporters welcomed him home.
Johnson played and started 169 games during his first 12 seasons of his career with the Texans after being drafted third overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. He owns most of the Texans record book since he is the franchise’s all-time leader in career receptions (1,012), receiving yards (13,597), receiving touchdowns (64) and 100-yard games (51).
Johnson also holds numerous individual game records for the Texans including most receptions (14), receiving yards (273) and receiving touchdowns (three) in a game.