As one of the greatest players in the history of both, the Raiders and the NFL, Charles Woodson needs no introduction. However, after his Hall of Fame enshrinement, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
A young legend…
Woodson entered the NFL as one of the most well-known football players in the world. He is one of the greatest college football players of all time and is still the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman trophy. As such, the Raiders selected Woodson with the fourth overall pick. To say the selection paid off would be a massive understatement.
Woodson would start his NFL career with a bang by winning Defensive Rookie of the Year and being selected to his first Pro Bowl. Helping to earn these awards were his five interceptions, good for third-best in the league, as well as his first pick-six. In his second season, he would earn his first All-Pro selection, an honor that would repeat itself eight times throughout his career.
In 2001, Woodson would be a part of the most controversial play in Raiders history. While it appeared he had sacked Tom Brady and forced a fumble to win the game, the officials thought differently and the New England Patriots would win the game. Despite this crushing defeat, Woodson would get to taste the Super Bowl the next year. While the Raiders would lose the game, ‘24′ would get an interception. 2002 would also start a trend that would lead to the end of his Raiders career: Injuries.
Injury bug and exit from Oakland
In 2004, Woodson would suffer a leg injury that caused him to miss time. He would then break his leg in 2005, which limited him to just six games. After the injuries mounted and his relationship with the team soured, he hit free agency. For Woodson, the only place to go was Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers were the only team to offer him a contract, and he repaid them handsomely. He would go on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2009 as one of the league’s premier ball hawks and was a centerpiece of their Super Bowl championship team in 2010. He is also the Packers’ all-time leader in defensive touchdowns.
After suffering several injuries towards the end of his Green Bay tenure, Woodson was released. As such, the door was open for a reunion in Oakland and the Raiders were more than happy to oblige. Signed to a one-year deal in 2014, Woodson proved he was not just a feel-good story as he led the team in interceptions at 38 years old. Woodson would return for one final season in 2015 where he again lead the team in interceptions with five. Fittingly, Woodson’s final game in Oakland was a legendary one on Christmas Eve that concluded with a speech to the Oakland fans that had been with him for so long.
Currently, Woodson is fifth all-time in interceptions, tied for first in defensive touchdowns, an eight-time All-Pro, and a nine-time Pro Bowler. Woodson is a true legend of the sport and an iconic figure in Raiders history. Canton simply would not be complete without him.
“I feel like it’s so fitting that here today, I put those cleats down for the last time, here in Canton, Ohio, and I walk into the Hall of Fame.”
— TheWolverine.com (@TheWolverineMag) August 9, 2021
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*Top Photo: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group