In an age where athletes have been announcing their retirement to reap the benefits of a farewell tour, it is exhilarating to see a man take the humble route. Just a few days before the Oakland Raiders are set to take on the San Diego Chargers, 9x pro -bowl safety Charles Woodson declared Christmas Eve will be the last time he will take the field at the O.co.Coliseum, the Raiders home since 1966.
There is little doubt that Woodson has set the standard for the safety position. The 1997 Heisman Trophy winner went on to become the only player in NFL history to have at least 50 INT and 20 sacks. He won his one and only Superbowl with the Green Bay Packers in a year in which he logged 92 tackles and 5 forced fumbles at the age of 34. Additionally, The University Of Michigan alumnus helped carry his team to a National Championship with a win at the Rose Bowl in 1997.
In Woodson’s scouting report from Sports Illustrated, he was praised for his athleticism and competitive nature. He was considered a “sure thing”. Former Pro Bowl safety and Patriots legend, Rodney Harrison said of Woodson after learning of his retirement, ” To me, Charles is the best defensive back of all time.”
Rodney is not alone in his opinion. Woodson is not only considered one of the best defensive players of all-time, he is known for his commanding presence in the locker room. In an article by Washington Post contributor, Kent Babb, two distinct moments were brought to the surface. One moment was an inspirational pre-game speech that sparked the then 3-7 Raiders to a victory over the Denver Broncos in Mile High Stadium. The speech prompted Rob Ryan, who was the defensive coordinator for the Raiders at the time to say it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen Woodson do. Fast forward to Woodson’s only Super Bowl win in 2011, Aaron Rodgers raved about a speech Woodson made while standing on a chair in the Packers locker room after the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC championship game.
All heart with a competitive spirit. An outstanding will to win all while carrying an infectious spirit to those around him. He is a man who has never been about all the glitz and accolades. Instead, Woodson is a man with an intense passion for the game that brought him so much success.
It will be an emotional moment when Woodson runs onto to the field at the O.co. Coliseum for the last time, a moment football fans should feel blessed to witness. Furthermore, in an age where, social media rules, narcissists are bred and farewell tours can be overdone and tedious, Woodson did it the right way.