2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class Will Not Have Andre Johnson

In the wake of the promotion of Lovie Smith to head coach, and the positive vibes from the ensuing press conference on Tuesday, the hope was that the Houston Texans could keep the positive momentum going through the end of the week with the announcement of the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, a group for which wide receiver Andre Johnson was a finalist.

Unfortunately, through no fault of their own (other than maybe not getting to a Super Bowl or to during Johnson’s playing career), the “good feels” hourglass ran out of sand on Thursday night, as we learned that the 2022 Hall of Fame calls will NOT include Andre Johnson. I would suspect, chances are, he will gain entry over the next few years, at some point, but the hill will only get tougher to climb (more on THAT in a moment).

For the record, here are the inductees that will go into Canton this coming July:

To be clear, Boselli, Butler, Mills, Seymour, and Young are all going in on the conventional writers’ ballot (the same one Johnson fell short on), Vermeil is going in as the coaching representaive, Houston native Branch (who recently passed away at age 71) is going in on the senior’s committee ballot, and McNally is going in as a contributor.

Now, for some reaction and thoughts looking ahead:

Andre Johnson had a better career than all five inductees from the traditional ballot
It’s an awkward thing to critique, because by definition every player on a Hall of Fame finalists ballot is a great, great football player, so nitpicking about levels of greatness makes it sound like harsh criticism of the inductees themselves. However, as Hall of Fame classes go, this one is kind of mundane. It feels like a “clean out the pipes” class, where there were no total no brainer, first ballot guys on the list, so they accommodated a handful of guys who’ve been up for induction numerous times. Here is the number of times these five regular-ballot inductees have been at least a semifinalist:

LEROY BUTLER: Semifinalist 2x (2018, 2019), Finalist 3x (2020, 2021, 2022)
TONY BOSELLI: Semifinalist 1x (2016), FInalist 6x (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)
SAM MILLS: Semifinalist 2x (2016, 2019), Finalist 3x (2020, 2021, 2022)
RICHARD SEYMOUR: Semifinalist 1x (2018), Finalist 4x (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022)
BRYANT YOUNG: Semifinalist 1x (2021), Finalist 2x (2020, 2022)

As for how they all stack with Andre Johnson, If we are comparing the number of All Pro and Pro Bowl berths, there’s not a single one that trumps Andre Johnson:

ANDRE JOHNSON, 5-time All Pro (2/2 … 7 Pro Bowls)
Richard Seymour, 5-time All Pro (3/2 … 7 Pro Bowls)
Leroy Butler, 4-time All Pro (4/0 … 4 Pro Bowls)
Bryant Young, 4-time All Pro (1/3 … 4 Pro Bowls)
Tony Boselli, 3-time All Pro (3/0 … 5 Pro Bowls)
Sam Mills, 3-time All Pro (1/2 … 5 Pro Bowls)

By the Pro Football Reference, Approximate Value metric, only Mills is superior to Johnson:

Mills 127
Young 117
Seymour 113
Butler 107
Boselli 74

The future candidacies will only be more difficult for Andre Johnson
So you may have read the previous section of this post and think “Well, no big deal then. Andre Johnson didn’t get in this go round, but he will easily get in one of the next couple times.” Well, loyal reader, perhaps he gets in during the 2023 or 2024 cycles, but it certainly does not get EASIER over the next few years, as the ballot will have some heavy hitters added in each of the next few cycles:

SHANE LECHLER, 9-time All Pro (6/3 … 7 Pro Bowls)
JOE THOMAS, 8-time All Pro (6/2 … 10 Pro Bowls)
DWIGHT FREENEY 4-time All Pro (3/1 …  7 Pro Bowls)
JAMES HARRISON 4-time All Pro (2/2 … 5 Pro Bowls)
DARRELLE REVIS 4-time All Pro (4/0 … 7 Pro Bowls)

JULIUS PEPPERS, 6-time All Pro (3/3 … 9 Pro Bowls)
ANTONIO GATES, 5-time All Pro (3/2 … 8 Pro Bowls)
ERIC BERRY 3-time All Pro (3/0 … 5 Pro Bowls)

LUKE KUECHLY, 7-time All Pro (5/2 … 7 Pro Bowls)
MARSHAL YANDA, 7-time All Pro (2/5 … 8 Pro Bowls)
EARL THOMAS, 5-time All Pro (3/2 … 7 Pro Bowls)
ERIC WEDDLE, 5-time All Pro (3/2 .. 5 Pro Bowls)
ADAM VINATIERI, 3-time All Pro (3/0 … 3 Pro Bowls)
ELI MANNING, 0-time All Pro (4 Pro Bowls, 2-time Super Bowl MVP)

MAURKICE POUNCEY, 5-time All Pro (2/3 … 9 Pro Bowls)
DREW BREES, 5-time All Pro (1/4 … 13 Pro Bowls)
LARRY FITZGERALD, 3-time All Pro (1/2 … 10 Pro Bowls)
JASON WITTEN, 4-time All Pro (2/2 … 11 Pro Bowls)

TOM BRADY, 6-time All Pro (3/3 … 15 Pro Bowls)
BEN ROETHLISBERGER, 0-time All Pro (6 Pro Bowls)

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