Charles Woodson (born on October 7, 1976 in Fremont, Ohio) is a former defensive back for the Green Bay Packers. In seven seasons with Green Bay, Woodson recorded 38 interceptions, nine of which he returned for touchdowns. He was the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, joining Reggie White as the only Packers to win the award.
He played college football at the University of Michigan for the Michigan Wolverines. In 1997, Woodson led the Wolverines to a national championship and became the only player in the history of NCAA Division I-A football to win the Heisman Trophy as a primarily defensive player.
Woodson was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft. In his first season with Oakland, Woodson was selected as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. He was named to the Pro Bowl four consecutive times (1998-2001) and earned All-Pro recognition three consecutive times (1999-2001). Woodson later battled several nagging injuries in consecutive seasons in Oakland, leading to his departure and becoming a free agent after the 2005 NFL season, where he signed a seven-year contract with the Packers.
1998 season: NFL Defensive Rookie of the YearEdit
Woodson declared his eligibility for entry in the National Football League (NFL) following his junior season at Michigan and was selected 4th overall in the 1st round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
After Woodson's first season in the NFL, he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. He started all 16 games, becoming the first rookie Raider since 1971 to do so. Woodson had 64 tackles that season, leading the NFL for defensive backs. He was third in the league in interceptions with five and recorded one interception return for a touchdown as well as one forced fumble. Woodson was named to his first Pro Bowl.
1999-2001: All-Pro seasonsEdit
In his second season in 1999, Woodson had one interception for a touchdown, and was selected to his second Pro Bowl. He was named All-Pro by the Associated Press.
In the 2000 NFL season, Woodson started all 16 games of the season but suffered a turf toe injury which prevented him from practicing. He finished the year with a career high 79 tackles, intercepted four passes, forced three fumbles and recovered one fumble. He was named to the All-Pro team by Sports Illustrated, and second-team honors from the Associated Press.
In his fourth year in the NFL, Woodson started all 16 games, marking the fourth consecutive year Woodson played in every game of the season. Woodson finished with two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one blocked field goal. Woodson returned punts for the first time in the NFL, returning four punts for 47 yards. He was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. He made All-Pro teams of The Sporting News and College and Pro Football Newsweekly and the All-AFC squad of Football News. In the 2001 divisional playoff game, Woodson forced a fumble by New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (his former college teammate) which nearly led to a Raiders victory. However, the fumble was overturned by the controversial "Tuck Rule", which led to a Raiders loss.
2002-2005: Injury-plagued seasonsEdit
In 2002, Woodson suffered his first major injury since his freshman college years, suffering from a shoulder injury which set him inactive in eight games. The shoulder injury came in the second game of the season in the first half. Despite the injury Woodson played the remainder of the game and was able to force a fumble. After his shoulder injury, Woodson missed the last three games of the regular season, suffering from a cracked fibula bone in his right leg. Woodson started every Raider game in the Playoffs, finishing with a start in Super Bowl XXXVII. In the Super Bowl, Woodson showed signs of his injury, but still recorded an interception in a losing effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After losing the Super Bowl in the year prior, the Raiders finished the 2003 NFL season with a record of 4-12. Woodson became unhappy with new head coach Bill Callahan, and criticized him during the season. Woodson remained healthy for the entire season, starting in his first fifteen games. His contract was set to expire after the season. Woodson reached an agreement with Oakland and was labeled as a franchise player. The franchise tag set Woodson's contract with a minimum of the average salary for the top five cornerbacks in the NFL. Although being labeled as a franchise player, Woodson's contract was only for one year.
In the 2004 NFL season Woodson played the first 13 games of the season before suffering a leg injury which put him inactive in the last three weeks. After the season Woodson again agreed to a one-year franchise tag deal.
In the 2005 NFL season, he started the first six games but broke his leg in Week 6, which sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Green Bay PackersEdit
On April 26, 2006, Woodson and the Green Bay Packers reached a 7-year contract agreement that could be worth as much as $52.7 million with bonuses and incentives. He reportedly made $10.5 million in the first year of the deal and $18 million over the course of the first three years. In addition, it was reported he received a $3 million bonus if he is selected to the Pro Bowl in two of the first three years of the contract. Woodson has stated that at the time of the contract he "did not want to come to Green Bay" due to a perception that the city is less than cosmopolitan, but was forced to do so because the Packers were the only team to offer him a contract. The cornerback has since lauded the Packers organization, Mike McCarthy, and the people of the State of Wisconsin for having faith in him, and has declared that "it was truly a blessing coming to Green Bay."
Free of any major injuries during the 2006 season, Woodson (tied with Walt Harris of the San Francisco 49ers) led the National Football Conference (NFC) with eight interceptions. At the time, that was the most interceptions Woodson had recorded in a single season (until he had 9 in 2009). Overall, he was tied for third in that statistic in the entire NFL. He was used as his team's starting punt returner for the first time in his NFL career, returning 41 punts for 363 yards.
On October 14, 2007 Woodson picked up a Santana Moss fumble and returned it 57 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in a 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins. He recorded an interception in the game, his first of the season. Woodson was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his performance versus the Redskins. It was the first time he has received this award. On November 4, 2007 Woodson had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown with 59 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter to seal a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
On September 15, 2008 Woodson recorded two interceptions in a 48-25 victory over the Detroit Lions. He returned the second interception 41 yards for a touchdown.
Woodson was named NFL Defensive Player of The Month for September in both 2008 and 2009.
On December 16, 2008, Woodson was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, his first with the Packers. Woodson had solid seasons in 06 and 07 as he had 8 interceptions and 1 TD in 2006 and 4 interceptions and 2 TD's in 2007.
2009 season: NFL Defensive Player of the YearEdit
On November 15, 2009, Woodson recorded nine tackles (two for loss), a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception in a 17-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Woodson is the first player in NFL history to have a sack, two forced fumbles, and an interception in a game. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
On November 26, 2009, Woodson had an impressive Thanksgiving game at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions. He recorded 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and recovery (same play), 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He covered star receiver Calvin Johnson and limited him to 2 catches for 10 yards. Although one of these was a touchdown, Green Bay won the game 34-12. Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for this performance and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of November.
In January 2010, Woodson was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December 2009. He is the only defensive player to ever receive this award 3 times in the same season, and joins Barry Sanders and Mike Vanderjagt as the only NFL players to receive a Player of the Month award 3 times in a single season. For his effort during the 2009, season Woodson was selected as the AP Defensive Player of the Year.
He has had more interceptions in his four years with the Packers (28) than he did in his previous eight with the Raiders (17). He has more touchdowns with the Packers (8 vs 2) and sacks (6 vs 5.5). Woodson's stats have improved in every defensive statistic since he has become a Green Bay Packer.
Woodson also holds the Packers' franchise record for most defensive touchdowns (8 total, 7 interception returns, 1 fumble return), breaking Herb Adderley's record.
On January 11, 2010, Woodson was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
2010 season: Super Bowl ChampionEdit
During the 2010 season, Woodson recorded two interceptions and five forced fumbles for the Packers. He was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl as a starting cornerback. It was his seventh career selection to the Pro Bowl. Woodson was named co-captain along with teammate A.J. Hawk for the Green Bay Packers defensive unit through the post-season. He provided a huge performance, limiting Pro-Bowler DeSean Jackson to just two catches (for 47 yards), and recorded 5 tackles in the Packers win over the Philadelphia Eagles on January 9, 2011. Woodson also played an important role in Dom Capers' defense in playoff victories against the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears and started against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. With 1:54 before halftime of the Super Bowl, Woodson broke his collar bone while diving to successfully defend a pass intended for Mike Wallace. An emotional Woodson gave a speech to his teammates during halftime. Watching from the sidelines in the second half, Woodson cheered his team on to a 31-25 victory, his only championship title. Despite his Super Bowl injury, Woodson finished the game with three total tackles, of which two were solo.
Barack Obama said if the Bears won the NFC Championship, that he would see them play in Super Bowl XLV, but he would not see Green Bay. Woodson sent Obama a jersey saying, "See you at the White House!" and had a pep talk in the locker room. He told the team if the President did not want to see the Packers play in the Super Bowl then they would go to the White House. The Packers won the Super Bowl. However, they could not visit the White House until August because of the terms in the NFL Lockout. When they visited the White House, Obama made reference to Woodson's pep rally and autographed jersey. Woodson responded by handing Barack Obama a certificate stating that Obama is a minority owner of the Green Bay Packers. Obama also said, "I have learned something that many quarterbacks have learned. Don't mess with Charles Woodson."
Engraved inside the 2010 Super Bowl Ring is the numeral “1” along with the words “Mind, Goal, Purpose and Heart”. The number and terms veteran cornerback Charles Woodson used during his memorable postgame locker-room speech following the NFC Championship in Chicago. On September 9, 2010, despite having three years left on his current contract, a thirty-three-year-old Woodson was offered and signed a two-year extension with the Packers, adding five years and $55 million to his existing pact.
When Woodson intercepted Cam Newton against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2011 season, it marked the fourth time he had intercepted a fellow winner of the Heisman Trophy. The other three quarterbacks he intercepted a pass from were Vinny Testaverde, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart. Woodson joined the 50-interception club when he picked off Kyle Orton in the first quarter in Week 4. This, his eleventh career interception return for a touchdown, places him second all-time behind Rod Woodson, who was not related to him.
Woodson started 2012 in a different role for the Packers, hoping to fill the void left by free safety Nick Collins, who had been out of football for almost a year with a neck injury. He described it simply as "just playing football". Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers' plan appeared to be to line Woodson up at the safety position, while also situationally deploying him as the nickel-back. This saw Woodson in a Polamalu-like position of the Pittsburgh Steelers, lining up on either side ready to rush or drop back in coverage.
Against the San Francisco 49ers in week 1, the 35-year-old Woodson recorded 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in a losing effort. Against the Chicago Bears in week 2, he recorded his 55th interception of his career, and first as a strong safety. The pass was intended for Earl Bennett.
Woodson suffered a broken collarbone during the Packers' victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, October 21, and was out for the next nine games.
Woodson sat out several weeks with the broken collarbone, but made it back for the first playoff game against the Vikings. He helped the Packers defeat the Vikings, but his team would fall to the 49ers the following week.
On February 15, 2013, the Packers released Woodson.
Return to Oakland (2013–2015)Edit
On May 21, 2013, Woodson signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders. He played in the preseason and started in week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. On October 6, in a game against the San Diego Chargers, Woodson tied the NFL record (with Darren Sharper and former teammate Rod Woodson) for most defensive touchdowns by scoring on a fumble recovery for his 13th defensive touchdown. By season end, he had played in 1,067 of 1,074 possible defensive snaps for the team amassing 97 tackles (75 solo), 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 pass defenses, 1 interception, and the aforementioned touchdown. On December 7, 2014, Woodson picked off Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers for his 3rd interception of the year, which sealed a Raiders victory.
On January 26, 2015, the Raiders announced via Twitter that they had agreed to a contract for Woodson to return in 2015.
In the 2015 season, Woodson was moved to strong safety. After this switch, Woodson became one of the few players in NFL history to play at all three spots in the secondary. Prior to Week 5 against the Broncos, Woodson said that he always wanted to intercept a pass from Peyton Manning, as he had never accomplished the feat over his career. Woodson lived up to his word and picked off Manning two times. However, the Broncos won 16-10.
On December 21, 2015, Woodson announced that he would retire at the end of the season. On February 12, 2016 it was announced that Woodson would be joining ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, replacing Keyshawn Johnson for next season.
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com