NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Andre Johnson's teammates in Tennessee nicknamed him 'Sensei.' It was a sign of respect for the veteran receiver who taught many of them so much in a short period of time.
On Monday morning, Johnson informed the Titans of his plans to retire from the NFL.
After practice, players gathered inside the locker room to Facetime with Johnson.
"I really don't know what he said, because he probably couldn't get a word in,'' Titans safety Daimion Stafford said of Johnson. "There were probably 50 of us yelling at him. But mostly it was all of us just saying farewell."
Johnson made a big impact on the NFL during his 14-year playing career. He also left a lasting impression on the Titans he shared a locker room with for the past three months as well.
"He made an impact on everybody in here,'' veteran Harry Douglas said. "He is the true definition of a pro, the way he did things, the way he practiced.
"That's the thing about the game of football, it's the relationships you enjoy. One day, I'll be able to say, 'See that guy with the gold jacket on? I played with him.' As good as Andre was on the field he was a better individual off it."
Johnson, who's 35, joined the Titans on July 30 and played in eight games for the team this season. He scored the game-winning touchdown in the team's 16-15 win over the Lions in Week 2, and had nine catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns in eight games.
Johnson spent his first 12 NFL seasons with the Houston Texans before playing last season with the Indianapolis Colts, where he had 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Johnson had 1,012 receptions for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns with the Texans, all of which are tops in franchise history.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Johnson told him on Monday morning it was just time.
"He reached out to me last night, asked if he could come in this morning,'' Mularkey said of Johnson. "He said he's been contemplating it for weeks and his heart was not in it. This is a tough business to be in when your heart's not in it."
Mularkey said the Titans aren't sure what they'll do with Johnson's roster spot.
Calling up receiver Tre McBride from the practice squad is an option, Mularkey said. Other players are also scheduled to work out on Tuesday, Mularkey said.
"Lack of catches doesn't mean lack of production,'' Mularkey said of Johnson. "With the rotation, Rishard (Matthews) was getting more plays. Rishard was making more the last few weeks. He's made some big plays for us, and so the rotation was a little bit more heavy him. But (Andre's) still productive, still was in the rotation that we planned on moving forward with."
Teammates said Johnson will be missed, on the field and off it.
"His presence since he came in, he was amazing, especially for me being a young player,'' receiver Tajae Sharpe said. "I grew up watching him and he was always one of the best receivers, if not the best receiver in the league. Just to have that presence and to see how he approached the game and how he came to work every day. … I took all that in.
"He was a great teammate and we're going to miss him in the locker room."
Johnson finishes his career with 1,062 catches for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns. Johnson posted seven 1,000-yard seasons and four seasons with at least 1,400 yards receiving.
The Titans have five receivers on the team's active roster, including Matthews, Douglas, Sharpe, Kendall Wright and Marc Mariani.
"I will remember him as a big brother type,'' Wright said of Johnson. "We as receivers, we got a chance to know him a little bit and he was just a good guy. He was always smiling. He knows everyone here will miss him. Now, he can do whatever he wants to do."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the Titans career of veteran WR Andre Johnson, who informed team of his retirement on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)