As hopeful as the 2014 NFL Draft likely made Texans fans after hearing Jadeveon Clowney mentioned as the newest member of the team, Andre Johnson made headlines on Tuesday by quickly deflating the mood.
Specifically, Johnson questioned the team's direction, expressed frustration with the Texans' offseason, and said he had decisions to make about his future. While Texans fans are left sorting out the story and trying to read between the lines, fans from many other NFL franchises (or other sports for that matter) can relate all too well.
What should a team do with a veteran who hasn't won as much as he deserves? Should a star like Andre stay loyal until the end, even if it means never tasting further success in the playoffs? And who's to say a franchise may not go farther than a player thinks? Isn't that the nature of parity in the NFL?
In Johnson's case, the rumors circle retirement more than a trade away from the Texans -- in much the same way that Barry Sanders left Detroit with seemingly plenty left in the tank. The sheer size of Johnson's contract makes him unlikely to be dealt, but reports question his heart for another potentially losing season. Most players couldn't get away with such statements, but Johnson has earned his platform. He's been an elite receiver and model citizen for the Texans for 11 seasons, with two playoff appearances to show for it.
Chiefs fans can likely relate to the feeling of watching a star long for more success than he's already had to date. Tony Gonzalez had a Hall of Fame career with Kansas City from 1997 to 2008 -- a stretch with only three playoff appearances for a player who had 10 Pro Bowls in that tenure. And in 2008, he asked for trade consideration from general manager Scott Pioli.
Gonzalez was eventually dealt to the Falcons for a second round pick (that turned into Javier Arenas), and TG went on to play for another five seasons in Atlanta. And in a way, Tony got his wish for more success. The Falcons never turned the corner and became the Super Bowl contender they were predicted to be, but Gonzalez went to the playoffs three more times in five seasons with the Falcons.
It's a mixed bag for fans when such a player voices his frustrations. After all, the star's frustrations are the fan's frustrations as well. Texans fans, like Chiefs fans, bought the jerseys, stayed after for autographs, and watched that player give back to the community around him. They've also watched the team's playoff drought continue and questioned the same moves. How inspired are Texans fans to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tom Savage battle it out for the starting quarterback job? They're likely as excited as Johnson.
We love our favorite players and want to see them succeed. But we also want that to happen in our home stadium. Will Johnson go out like Sanders? Get traded like T.O.? Or take another one for the fans who are likely as frustrated as he is?