Packers’ Woodson finally Reciprocating the Love : Packers Insider

Packers’ Woodson finally Reciprocating the Love

January 7, 2010 by  
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Jan 7, 2009 ~ By Charles Robinson, Yahoo Sports

~Charles Woodson sat alone in his car. He looked out the window, and two strangers were clamoring for his attention.  

It was 2006. The Green Bay Packers were in the midst of a losing streak. His knee was hurting and his shoulder was in a harness. In the physical sense, he was all there – the prickly Wisconsin weather left little doubt about that. But mentally, he was alternating between pissed off defiance and wondering, “How the hell did I get here?” And now there were two people – true Wisconsin folks – sitting in another car, smiling at him. The look on Woodson’s face must have spoken volumes.

“Coming here, the way people have embraced me, the way they respect the way I play the game, community-wise, for me there’s a loyalty there,” Woodson says. “I wouldn’t want to leave these people. That’s coming from my heart. I would not want to leave them.”

“Coming here, the way people have embraced me, the way they respect the way I play the game, community-wise, for me there’s a loyalty there,” Woodson says. “I wouldn’t want to leave these people. That’s coming from my heart. I would not want to leave them.”

“We don’t want anything from you,” a man behind the wheel said after rolling down his window. “We just want you to know that we really respect the way you play.” 

With that, the window rolled back up, and the car pulled away. 

There are a lot of moments that have delivered Woodson to where he is now – in Green Bay, back amongst the league’s elite cornerbacks, and likely on the verge of the NFL’s defensive player of the year award. But Woodson punctuates this one with a toothy, 100-watt grin. 

“That,” Woodson said of the brief encounter, “meant everything to me.” 

Looking back, the ego has healed and the darkness has lifted. Woodson is no longer locked into mortal combat with his surroundings. The city he once couldn’t fathom playing in has now come to define the next phase of his life – the one that has put his raucous days with the Oakland Raiders behind him, and made the sourest points of his reputation seem more relic than reality. 

Four years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find an NFL executive outside of Green Bay who would have believed that was possible. Fresh into the first free agency of his career, Woodson was nothing less than radioactive. He spent two months as an NFL orphan, holding out for something, anything better than Green Bay. All the while, his agent would shrug, and Woodson would stare at the ticker at the bottom of his television, cursing when his name was never mentioned amongst the best available free agents. Eight seasons into his NFL career, his Heisman Trophy, All-Pro credentials and reputation as a lethal shutdown specialist had been cast into the abyss. And that’s precisely where Woodson thought he was going when Green Bay was his one and only option. 

“It was tough to watch,” said Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who remains one of Woodson’s closest friends in the game. “… I’m not gonna lie. Green Bay was a head-scratcher. The amount of money he signed for [$52 million over seven years], you thought ‘Oh good, at least he’s well-compensated.’ But then you thought ‘Green Bay? This doesn’t even fit Charles’ personality. It doesn’t seem like a place where he can be himself.’ 

“But you ask Charles now, and he’ll tell you it was the best thing that could have happened.”
FULL STORY HERE

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