Dear Mr. Woodson,
One of my earliest memories of fandom is an infamous Saturday night in the snow. I still remember your white No. 24 coming free from the outside, before blindsiding Tom Brady. Then I watched a visible fumble stripped from you over the “Tuck rule.” Our title hopes were then ripped away by the New England Patriots.
Even though I was only in second grade and watched the play from home, it still resonates with me today.
I remember you as the swaggy corner on the 2002 Championship team. I remember you as one of the only 90 overall Madden players on the Raiders roster, during those hard to watch 2000 seasons.
When you left for Green Bay, I was not bitter. I knew you had something to prove after some injuries on our squad. Hence, I rooted for you when you were not playing the Raiders.
I watched you mature from a man coverage corner to a Rover, safety, slot corner and anything else Green Bay needed. I even watched you win a Super Bowl and applauded when you won the Defensive Player of the Year. Plus, you were a stable on my NFC Pro Bowl ballot.
Then you came back to Oakland. I could not believe it. Why would you spend your last years with a losing squad?
Still, you were the one hope we had in Free Agency.
Nonetheless, Raider nation gathered at your visit. We believed in you and you believed in
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They said you lost a step and they said you were washed-up. You proved them wrong.
This time you played the role of the savy-veteran. You became the heart and soul of our defense. You became the heartbeat of our team and the pulse of the city.
You gave us something to cheer for when were 0-10. I do not think I’ll ever forget you throwing up the “O,” after we finally secured a meaningless win in the 2014 season.
It was an honor to watch you mature over the seasons. Over the years, I witnessed the one-sleeve look, the turtle neck, the two-sleeve look, and the infamous towel at the waist. Still, I am most grateful for what you gave us in your last season.
Through shoulder injuries, you gave us all you had. When our back was against the wall, you made the play that kept us in the game. It was the fumble recovery versus the Broncos, the interception against the Browns and many more. Each of your five interceptions, this season, were meaningful.
Now that you are walking away from the game, I thank you for everything. All I know about the greatness of the Raiders is legends of the 60s, 70s, 80s and faded images of the late 90s.Hence, you were the greatest one I ever watched with my two eyes.
As a kid, I remember defending you at lunch-table arguments as the best corner in the game. Then I hit adulthood, and you were the one I cheered for on Sundays. You taught me what it means it to embody a Raider.
Best of all, you taught Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and many other young players what a Raider is. You did exactly what you set-out to do. You helped return the franchise to relevance. You left the program in better shape then you found it. Your legacy will live on.
Therefore, you deserve to walkaway from the game when you decide.
Whatever life brings you next, I know you will tackle it head-on. I know you will wear your next job title with the same pride you wore the No. 24. Whatever you decide, best believe Raider Nation will always back you. Therefore, you will become successful at coaching, broadcasting or even wine-making.
As a 23-year-old man learning life, I appreciate the example you’ve set. I understand the maturation you’ve made as an individual, and I hope the same will happen in my professional life.
Thank you Mr. Woodson.
Thank you for sacrificing you body, despite the meaningless games. Thank you for giving me something to write and talk about, no matter the opponent. Most of all, thank you for giving Raider Nation hope.
Pete D. Camarillo
A Raiders Fan and Sports Writer
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