When Charles Woodson came to the Oakland Raiders leading up to the 2013 season, many knew that it was a move that would more than likely be made so that the future Hall of Famer could end his career with the team that drafted him as well as with the fanbase that cherishes him the most.
Holding a special bond with the Raider Nation and most importantly the franchise, Woodson has made many statements about wanted to help guide the franchise back to the glory that he got enjoy during the Raiders magical era during the early 00′s. That desire led Woodson to a return for 2014, and although he says he would have liked to get a contract down as soon as possible this offseason he is more than excited to be back on a team that has significantly more proven talent than last year.
Not wanting to go to any team other than the Raiders, Woodson admitted to being a little antsy in wanting to secure his contract with general manager Reggie McKenzie this offseason. Revealing in a Monday press conference that knowing that if the Raiders chose not to bring him back he would likely retire led to some worries when the team was actively pursuing free agents before locking up the legend’s new deal.
“Yeah, you never know from year to year,” Woodson said of his contract negotiations to media on hand at Raiders OTA’s. “It dragged on a little longer than I wanted it to in the offseason. I wanted to get something done right away, but of course every team has their priorities, and I respect what they did in the offseason and the moves that they made prior to me signing again.”
“I was getting a little bit nervous sitting at home trying to figure out what was going to happen, because the reality was, if it didn’t happen here, that could have been it. So yeah, no doubt about it.”
Woodson also made it clear that he has no ambitions as an NFL player left other than continuing his mission for success with the Raiders, admitting he didn’t speak to a single NFL team other than Oakland when he was technically a free agent this spring.
“No, I didn’t talk to anybody.,” said Woodson. “My heart was set on coming back here, and if that didn’t happen I would have had to weigh those options, whether or not something could turn up, but my heart was set on coming here so if it wasn’t here, I don’t know.”
After bringing in several proven big names on defense, namely Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley as well as drafting Khalil Mack with the fifth overall pick, Woodson appeared to be extremely re-motivated and his presence at voluntary OTA’s has helped that excitement it appears. So much so that Woodson isn’t ruling out playing as long as he possibly needs to in order to see out his mission of bringing his team back to the playoffs.
When asked about this potentially being his last season and “smelling the roses” a bit more in 2014, Woodson dropped a rather large early bombshell by saying that as of June his 37 year old body feels good enough that he doesn’t look at this process as being his swan song season quite yet. Downplaying any notions of the “Charles Woodson Farewell Tour” having a final show set in stone quite yet.
“I think every year you stop and smell the roses once you get past a certain point, But I’m looking at the team, and just going off how I feel health wise, I’m not looking at this being the last year.”
“Of course, I’m going to enjoy every moment of it at the same time, because like I said, you never know how it’s going to turn out. I’m looking at what they’ve done here this offseason and the guys they’ve brought in, the draft that we had, we’re going to be a good team. If that means playing this year and beyond, then of course I’d be open to it.”
If Woodson has the mindset of wanting to continue to be a veteran presence in the Raiders secondary for more than this season it can only help a defense that gets a great on-field teacher and leader as well as a player who even in his old age can still provide plenty of big plays. We all remember Woodson’s 2013 highlight reel where the aging vet turned back the clock more than a few times, making the San Diego Chargers his victims by winning the Defensive Player of the Week award as well as delivering some of the best tackles of the season on Maurice Jones-Drew and Ben Tate that provide video example of why nobody should be questioning if Woodson can continue to produce big plays as he nears closer and closer to 40.
Whether Woodson is or isn’t heading into his final season, his passion for the team has always seemed like an invaluable asset since coming back to the Raiders. Woodson could have easily made the 2013 season a farewell tour and stole the spotlight of a 4-12 season to retire a Raider and still finish with a career that will be remembered forever as legendary. That doesn’t seem like the type of ending Woodson has in mind as the player who has achieved nearly everything in football seems to have one more thing on his to-do list: Bring back the Oakland Raiders. Don’t be shocked if a healthy Woodson continues to play through 2014 should that dream ending to his storied career require extra seasons for a player who wants to end his career the way every athlete dreams of, on top.