It seems to be a common trend in the NFL that a star player leaves the team he spent much of his career with, and they wind up in the same division, facing their former franchise twice per year. In fact last April Rant Sports had a top ten list of players who moved on to a division rival, and the names on this list are all greats of the game.
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The list includes players such as receiver Terrell Owens leaving the Eagles for the Dallas Cowboys. Owens had a tumultuous tenure in the City of Brotherly Love and made it known that he wanted to teach the Eagles a lesson for letting him leave. Also on the list, receiver Greg Jennings, who left the Green Bay Packers for the Minnesota Vikings and tried kicking quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the way out. Jennings insults went over about as well as his time in Minnesota did.
Others to make similar moves were; Jared Allen, the defensive end who left Minnesota for Chicago; James Harrison the outside linebacker who bolted Pittsburgh for Cincinnati; defensive end Julius Peppers who left Chicago for Green Bay; running back Marcus Allen who left the Raiders for Kansas City and the most popular on the list quarterback Brett Favre who left Green Bay also for Minnesota.
As I stated the list here was put out over one year ago and since then we have seen cornerback Darrelle Revis leave New England for New York, running back DeMarco Murray head from Dallas to Philly and even some lesser known players like receiver Dwayne Harris leaving Dallas for the Giants and the Houston Texans snatching up both receivers Nate Washington (Tennessee) and Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville).
Now athletes are prideful people, and I don’t fault them. They have to be to reach such an elite level of talent, and there has to be something inside them that makes them want to show a team they made a mistake by letting them go. There is no other explanation as to why this is such a common occurrence in the NFL.
And it again happened when the Texans released veteran receiver Andre Johnson this offseason, mostly for cap reasons. It was reported even before the release was official that there was a mutual interest between he and the rival Indianapolis Colts, and it didn’t take long for the two to come to an agreement.
So now Johnson gets to catch passes from star quarterback Andrew Luck while trying to beat his old team twice per season. With signing on with a rival being so prevalent, please excuse me for being more than a little skeptical when Johnson says (via the Houston Chronicle) that he didn’t join the Colts to get revenge on Houston.
"“Everybody thinks that I went to the Colts to try and get back at the Texans and stuff like that. That had nothing to do with it. I just went to the … place where I felt was the best fit for me and where I can have a chance to win a championship.”"
Andre does go on to say the cliche thing all players do about how great his time was and how this will always be his home.
"“I had 12 great years here. Been around some great people, built some great relationships, a lot of great friends. Houston’s always going to be my home. I have nothing bad against the Texans.”"
I do believe that Johnson has great feelings about the city of Houston, and I have no doubt in my mind he loves the support he got from all the fans. I also get that this is a business and players will do what is best for themselves, and I hold that against no one.
However, telling me that Andre doesn’t want revenge on head coach Bill O’Brien is as believable as me telling you I invented the internet. Johnson only worked with O’Brien for one season in Houston and it happened to be the one season where Johnson wasn’t the top receiver (excluding years with significant injuries that is).
His strong relationship is with the city, organization, the fans and many of the teammates that are no longer there. The man in Andre Johnson will most likely always have love for all that. Yet I believe in his heart he was more than happy to sign on with Indy and stick it to the new regime in Houston.
He’s only human, so no one should blame him. All the Texans can do is wish him the best and try and show they will be just fine without him, while he tries to show he is just fine without them.