HOUSTON -- Andre Johnson isn't widely known as a media darling. He doesn't seek the spotlight off the field. He doesn't always come across on television because he speaks softly. Reporters who covered him in college remember him as a shy guy who tended to mumble. On a team full of stars, Johnson wasn't sought after when he was eligible to speak.
Somewhere along the way, the Houston Texans' star receiver realized his role had changed.
It's made him one of the most professional and best interviews on the team. That isn't always the case with superstars, especially one with his longevity (he's entering his 11th NFL season).
"I just think you have to be careful about what you say," Johnson told me after one of the Texans' preseason games. "Sometimes certain things shouldn't be said, and sometimes things need to be said. I just think because in the media, sometimes your words can get twisted up."
He doesn't see his thoughtfulness as a favor, rather as a way to make sure he is represented properly.
Teams are allowed to limit one or two players to one interview a week, but Johnson never hides behind that, rarely declining if asked.
I've never heard Johnson snap at someone or be even close to rude. Not letting words bother him is something he's honed on the field. In fact, when Johnson fought with then-Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan in 2010, the incident surprised players around the league because it was so out of character for him. His professionalism off the field translates on it, too.
"I'm not going to go back and forth with you; I gotta play the game," Johnson said. "You want to talk all game, I'll go out there and have 10, 11 catches, and X amount of yards. You can keep talking, but you look bad. The more you talk to me, the more damage I'm going to do to you on the field."
He's made a decent career of coming through on that promise.