Touraj “Jeje” (T. J.) Houshmandzadeh, Jr. (born September 26, 1977) is an American football player for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played college football at Oregon State. Houshmandzadeh is of mixed heritage: his mother is African-American and his father Iranian.
T.J. graduated from Barstow High School in Barstow, California. He later enrolled at Cerritos College. In his two seasons with the Falcons in 1997 and 1998, he was a two-time First-Team Mission Conference selection at wide receiver and kickoff returner. He wanted to play as running back his freshman year, but believing he was too tall to play running back, he voluntarily moved to wide receiver. He finished his Falcons career with 1,152 receiving yards on 65 receptions. He also had two 103-yard kickoff returns and an 92-yard punt return.
Oregon State University
Based on his junior college performance, Houshmandzadeh was offered an athletic scholarship at Oregon State University by then head coach Dennis Erickson. Oregon State is where he and Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco first met as Beaver teammates.
In his sole season as a starter for Oregon State, Houshmandzadeh caught 42 passes for 656 yards and six touchdowns. He helped his team defeat Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. T.J. contributed a receiving touchdown, assisting his team to a 41 – 9 victory.
Houshmandzadeh had a modest rookie season, recording 21 receptions for 228 yards, while also being used to return punts and kickoffs. His most notable achievement was in a game against the Cleveland Browns, in which he set a franchise record with 126 punt return yards.
After the 2001 season, questions about Houshmandzadeh’s speed led to him slimming down to his current playing weight of about 200 pounds, which increased his on-field performance remarkably. Houshmandzadeh has gained a number of rushing yards on reverse plays. In 2004, he rushed six times and gained 51 yards (8.5 yards per attempt); in 2005, he rushed eight times for 62 yards (7.8 yards per attempt) and scored his first touchdown.
He’s been called one of the NFL’s most underrated players by many pundits. In fact, ESPN.com analyst K. C. Joyner noted that with only three dropped passes in the 2005 season, Houshmandzadeh ranked first in the league with a 2.6 dropped pass percentage.
“They’re both unique,” says Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer of his primary receivers. “They do completely different things well and complement each other perfectly. T. J.’s a physical guy; a physical blocker, physical when he gets the ball. He’s like (the Pittsburgh Steelers’) Hines Ward.”
Houshmandzadeh missed almost all of the 2003 season with a severe hamstring injury. In 2004 he was listed as the team’s third receiver behind Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson. However, Warrick became injured and Houshmandzadeh was promoted to the starting lineup with Johnson.
Houshmandzadeh took advantage of his opportunity to prove himself, recording 73 receptions for 978 yards and four touchdowns. With the release of Warrick during the 2005 training camp, Houshmandzadeh retained the starting position and he and Johnson soon earned recognition for being among the NFL’s most exciting receiving tandems. Houshmandzadeh and the team’s high-powered aerial attack is credited as a primary reasons for the Bengals’ recent resurgence and he was given a four-year, $13 million contract and an undisclosed bonus in March 2005.
Early in the 2005 season, Houshmandzadeh suffered an injury to his right hand, which limited his effectiveness for several games. In the 2006 season, he battled a recurring minor foot injury that kept him out of the first two games of the regular season. On September 24, 2006, he made his season debut, catching nine passes for 94 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns in the Bengals’ 28-20 win over their division foe Pittsburgh Steelers. The second of these catches was a tough reception in the end-zone against Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend. Even though he was closely guarded by Townsend, Houshmandzadeh was able to tip Carson Palmer’s pass, catch it, and gain possession as he landed on his back. For his performance, he was named the AFC offensive player of the week. In mid 2006, he suffered a mild concussion during the Bengals 49-41 loss to San Diego from an early hit by San Diego Chargers Free Safety Marlon McCree. He started as wide-out in both of Cincinnati’s following victories against the New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns.
Houshmandzadeh finished the 2006 season with 90 receptions for 1,081 yards and nine touchdowns, all career highs. His 90 receptions and nine touchdown catches led his team. He and Chad Johnson also became the first Bengals teammates ever to each record over 1,000 receiving yards in the same season.
Houshmandzadeh opened the 2007 season by scoring a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens and two touchdowns in the loss to the Cleveland Browns. Against the Seattle Seahawks, Houshmandzadeh totaled 141 yards on 12 receptions for one touchdown. By the end of the year, he finished with a franchise record 112 receptions for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 112 catches tied him with Wes Welker for the most in the NFL. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
Houshmandzadeh was signed by the Seattle Seahawks on March 2, 2009 to a five-year $40 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. He had also been courted by the Minnesota Vikings. The Cincinnati Bengals reportedly gave him an offer, but he countered the statement saying “Cincinnati’s offer wasn’t enough for me to continue to play there, I think I should be able to start fresh.” He jokingly went on to say “I want to win some games for once”, which is a reference to the Bengals’ history of losing. Ironically, the Bengals swept the AFC North on their way to a 10-6 record, while Seattle finished 5-11. On September 4, 2010, the Seahawks released Houshmandzadeh.
Houshmanzadeh signed a 1 year deal with Baltimore Ravens on September 6, 2010 for the veteran league minimum of $855,000. However, since his $7 million salary with the Seattle Seahawks was guaranteed in his previous contract, Seattle will pay him the remaining $6.15 million for 2010..
The name Houshmandzadeh (in Persian characters ﻫﻮﺸﻤﻨﺪﺰﺍﺪﻩ) is derived from the Persian name Hooshmandzadeh, a compound name meaning the “son (ﺰﺍﺪﻩ) of wisdom or intelligence”. Houshmandzadeh’s name is pronounced /ˌhʊʃmənˈzɑːdə/ HOOSH-mən-ZAH-də.
Houshmandzadeh’s name pops up in an NFL fantasy football television commercial where a fantasy player cannot pronounce his surname properly with words like “Houshamazilla”, “Houshmazode”, “Houshvadilla” and even to “Houshyamomma”. Ex-Teammate Chad Ochocinco introduced him as “T. J. Who’s-your-momma” on television during an ESPN Monday Night pre-season game on August 28, 2006.
In Electronic Arts‘ Madden NFL series of games, Houshmandzadeh’s surname is shortened to “Houshmandz”. The game limits last names to 12 characters, and his name is 14 characters. Several other players have shortened names, such as Ben Roethlisberger, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Kory Lichtensteiger. These players’ jersey names have been fixed in since Madden 2010, but the 12-character limit still remains.
His surname is often shortened to “Housh” or “Hoosh” by fans, which is sometimes mistakenly interpreted as booing.