Packers XLV

Appreciating Charles Woodson

Posted February 15th, 2013 @ 09:02pm

I don't buy a lot of players' jerseys. I mean, I've gotten to the age where I could be a player's dad (who knows, my 9-year-old son Jackson thinks I will be someday). Mostly, when I wear a player's jersey, it's a retired guy: Ray Nitschke, Reggie White, LeRoy Butler. I broke my rule with Charles Woodson.

For many of us, the infatuation came when he was at Michigan. A rare athlete, he became the first and only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman, when he beat Peyton Manning. He was a stud in Oakland, till injuries and a falling out with Bill Callahan ended the honeymoon.

Enter that notorious bargain hunter Ted Thompson who pounced on the mercurial Woodson when nobody else would offer him big money. Woodson headed to Green Bay basically kicking and screaming. Six and half years later, he leaves as a Packer for life, certain to enter both the Packer Hall of Fame as well as the big one in Canton.

In announcing Woodson's release, Ted Thompson called him a once-in-a-generation player and that's precisely what he was, for how he played the game on the field as well as his leadership off of it.

He had a Reggie White-like influence on the Packers defense; the championship season wouldn't have happened without it. Young guys like Matthews, Raji, Williams and Shields followed his lead and learned what it took to get to the top.

One of my lasting memories of Woodson is  Super Bowl XLV in Dallas: watching the tunnel as the teams came out for the second half. I was hoping I'd see #21, taped up, shot up and back on the field. But he had suffered a broken collarbone late in the second quarter and his day was done. His halftime speech was goosebump-inducing and the secondary stood tall at the end, not allowing Big Ben to have one more comeback.

It was heartbreaking to see Woodson on the sidelines when the Packers won their fourth Lombardi title, but it was a precursor of things to come. His mid-30-something body was breaking down and for a cornerback that usually spells the end. After missing chunks of the past two seasons, it was clear the team was ready to part ways with Ted Thompson's best free agent signing.

Will he play in 2013? Depends on what salary amount he's willing to play for. It wouldn't surprise me if a contender offered him a low salary to be a safety to see what he has left and to hope that his competitive spirit can rub off on his new teammates.

For us Packer fans, we'll remember Woodson as a punishing defender who made big plays when they were needed most. We'll remember a man who has given millions of dollars to charity.

For seven years in green and gold, Charles Woodson gave all of us plenty of highlights and moments to remember.


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Comments (11):

There may be a handful out there who will disagree with me on this, but letting Woodson go was the right thing to do. We all hate to see a legend leave, but it's the way of the world in today's NFL. His eventual spot in Canton is secure, and it's waiting for him in 5 years if he decides to hang it up for good. The secondary is actually one of the areas of strength on this team, and although he'll be missed, the Packers should be able to move on seamlessly. And if I can take a moment for our Vikings friends, I'd like to extend congratulations to Adrian Peterson on his MVP, and to Cris Carter for being named to the HOF. Yes, they're both associated with a division rival, but having them there makes the division that much better. Both are well deserved achievements. And for whatever Charles Woodson chooses to do from here on out, best of luck, and thank you. White House on 3!!!

on February 15th, 2013 at 07:56pm

Bill...VOR....I will take you up on that beer sometime. I still think selective free agency not outlandish signings are needed. If you are a complete rebuilding mode throwing money around as you say and I agree does not work. But if you are going into free agency signing at all bottom tier special team types are a waste of roster spots. Then I agree stay with the drafted players and teach them your system from the bottom up. But...we are a championship caliber least as long as we have a healthy Aaron Rodgers give him and the defense some quality starter type players. I not overpay but a few good signings could help. We can not always rely on TT to draft well as that can be a crapshoot ...even at his draft ability level. Let's just make this team better using all available avenues !! GO PACK GO !!

on March 10th, 2013 at 02:43pm

Things have sure gotten interesting in the last 24 hours or so, haven’t they? First, let’s start with the purple and the Harvin trade – I’m sure there’s a mixed reaction from both sides of the St. Croix/Mississippi rivers, and we can debate this between now and training camp, but here’s my take: congratulations should go to Rick Spielman for making the trade that may very well put the Vikings on the path to perennial contenders. Think I’m kidding? Consider these points – first of all, with all the time Harvin missed last season, the Vikings figured out a way to win games without him. Sure, he’s a multi-purpose talent that can light it up in a variety of ways, but he’s a major PIA. The Vikes got to the playoffs without his help (I’m not saying they could do it again with the same personnel), so they’ve proved that life does exist without the migraines he suffered and the migraines he provided. Then consider that he was a first round draft choice, and the Vikings got 4 years from him, traded him away for another 1st round pick, a 7th this year and a 3rd next year for him – absolutely brilliant! And now that Wallace is off to South Beach, that puts Jennings at the top of the WR free agent heap. BUYER BEWARE, purple faithful! He’s going to be 30 this year, has a history of injuries, and who knows how much he has left? Now it may sound like I’m dissing our own guy, but there are plenty others asking the same questions. And like any other free agent out there, the longer he’s on the market, the price goes down. Would I like to see him back in green and gold? Of course I would, if only because he knows the system, but it would have to be for the right price. But getting back to Harvin for a moment…having him out of the division (but not out of the conference) may or may not be a good thing, depending on who you ask. On paper, this could put Seattle on the way to big things, and if Carroll can figure out a way to rein him in, well, more power to him. This probably shows that Carroll has a big enough ego to do it, as if we didn’t think that before. Not to mention Spielman appears to be learning a thing or two from our own TT – load up on the picks, dump the old guys (in their case, bye bye Winfield), and keep building for the future. Heard of this plan before? The reason he’s taking this course is because, guess what…IT WORKS! So as much as it pains me to say it, look out for the purple in the coming years. 2013 might be a bit of an adjustment, but come ’14, look out! The handwriting is on the wall.

on March 12th, 2013 at 07:15pm

Steven Jackson or Greg Jennings? if we can only afford 1 of them, which 1 would be best? both about the same age I think. something exciting about getting a good running back after watching mediocrity for last few years but dang Greg Jennings is pretty good.

on March 12th, 2013 at 09:37pm

Trashman...if it were me, it's an easy decision - Jennings all the way. Even though they may be about the same age, a running back has a lot more tougher miles than a WR. Jackson may be a good guy, but let's not pay for past performance with the hopes of getting one year (or less - think Benson here for a moment...) out of the guy. Get someone younger. Better yet - draft one. Just sayin'...

on March 12th, 2013 at 10:43pm

Cmon, Head Cheese. How about some off-season free agent/draft speculation? And many thanks to Charles Woodson for his great play on the field and great character off the field.

on March 6th, 2013 at 01:40pm

Here's a good question. " What's the deal with Johnny Jolly?" Packer's have his rights, but for how long? I assume his former deal is washed away and they have a certain amount of time to cut him or sign him. Am I right?

on March 6th, 2013 at 09:57pm

Johnny Jolly - cut him. End of story.

on March 7th, 2013 at 11:22am

Gentlemen...with the pending free agency market now upon us, I think we all know that for the first few weeks, the Packers will watch the fireworks go by and do nothing until the right guy at the right price comes along. And there's a simple reason for this...and I'll capitalize it...BIG MONEY FREE AGENCY DOESN'T WORK! Time and time again, a free agent signed in the first few days turns out to be a bust in one form or another. Either the player signed turns out to be a paycheck sucking bum, or puts up decent numbers but his team is so far out of the playoff picture, nobody cares what he does (unless you're into fantasy football). I'll bet no one reading this can name at least one big money free agent who switched teams signed within the last 5 years that put his team "over the top" (I.E.: the Super Bowl). Case in point - last year, the Bills signed "the big prize", Mario Williams. What a joke that turned out to be! Look at how that John Carlson signing worked out for the purple! And during that period, the only one that comes closest to being worth something is Julius Peppers, but then again, even with him the Bears still suck! And I hate to wish ill will on someone, but if Greg Jennings signs elsewhere for big $$$ in 2013, he's going to tank; the law of averages are against him. So there you have it - my bold free agency prediction. If you care to prove me wrong, have at it.

on March 8th, 2013 at 07:24pm

Davy....Go in your closet and clean up your golf clubs....almost the season. But...before lets have some free agent and draft talk and speculation. Bill...the Voice of make some valid points about not overpaying in free agency but Tt can not always rely on the draft and picking up special team players which wind up starting because of injuries from free agency. Tt needs to find some reliable starters in free agency....many needs...OL and DL...RB and LB....someone to be a bonafide starter. Look at Belechick....he does it a lot. Let's have some action. GO PACK GO !!

on March 9th, 2013 at 04:01pm

OSSG, I think you and I are going to disagree on this approach for quite some time - maybe we could do it over a beer sometime!! :-) Anyway, when there are this many holes to fill, free agency isn't the way to do it, even in the "lower tier" of FA's. Draft, baby, draft! You can get the guys young, teach them your system, and keep them around until you can't afford them anymore. As long as you bring in athletic, talented guys (and in the case of lineman, add "big" to that list), you'll be competitive every year. Belicheck will bring in one or two a year, but he doesn't go for the big buck guys - an owner would have to be insane to do that - just ask Dan Snyder. And for Jeff Lurie, how'd that "Dream Team" thing work out for him? And I'm not a TT apologist, but he does know what he's doing. Even Spielman is going with the same approach and look how the Vikes made a turnaround? Now I'm not expecting a repeat of that from the purple this year, but they will be a factor if they stick with their formula. And if the Vikes sign Wallace like some have been hinting around, I'll guarantee a huge bust!! Big buck free agency just doesn't work!! That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

on March 9th, 2013 at 09:26pm

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