Charles Woodson likes being back in Oakland, to be sure. But be careful about making his decision solely a sentimental one.
Woodson, the 36-year-old safety coming off an injury-plagued season in Green Bay, signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with Oakland last week that included a $700,000 signing bonus. And it's the bonus that was the major difference between the offers he got from Oakland and Denver, Woodson said.
"It was all about getting something to sign,'' Woodson told SI.com. "That was it.''
Woodson said the emotion of returning to Oakland was a factor as well. But I got the feeling talking to him that if Denver believed he was worth the risk at 36 of staying healthy for the year, and backed that belief with a significant signing bonus, he'd be a Bronco today. "My visit there was awesome,'' said Woodson. "Meeting with John Elway and coach [John] Fox, I was very impressed.''
Confronting his own retirement was a big deal for Woodson over the last three months. "You're forced to think about it,'' he said. "The phone just wasn't ringing. I was sure -- and I am sure -- I can play at least another year, but if no one wants you, there's not much of an option. I hear what people have said. 'He can't run anymore.' 'He can't stay healthy.' All those things. Maybe I'm delusional. But I knew I could play. When I sat across from [Oakland GM] Reggie McKenzie, I told him that. I was sure I could give a team a good year. And even if I'm not going to play for a team that's supposed to win a Super Bowl this year, I like this staff, and I like the team. I was humbled by the turnout of fans at the facility wanting me to come back.''
Woodson looked like a prize fighter returning to the ring when he stepped back onto Raiders property. "A thrill,'' he said. "Walking back in there, seeing the fans and seeing so many people I knew. I'm so excited to be back."
He sounded disillusioned by free agency. "Very surprised,'' he said. "You try to pick it apart, and I guess it's being 36 and coming off a collarbone injury. I guess what I don't understand is if you look at the tape I can still play football.''
It won't take long to find out. The free safety job will be Woodson's to lose alongside strong safety Tyvon Branch, and he'll have the chance to face Peyton Manning twice this year instead of being his teammate. Strange how things work out. But I have a feeling Woodson will feel extra motivation when those Denver-Oakland games are played in Weeks 3 and 17. If Woodson is active and playing well for those two games, that'll likely prove his point that he was healthy enough to last the season.
I don't think there's anything deep or dark about it. Joe Linta is a no-nonsense guy, and I think he was frustrated a year ago that the Ravens didn't want to split what he felt was a very small difference in the final offers from both sides.
As I recall from being on the quarter system at Ohio University, we finished classes in early June, and so I don't see the logic there. If classes ended on May 15 and they could be available immediately, that's one thing. But if they're not available until, say, June 10, if makes no sense. Plus, it makes no sense to me if all but one of your rookies can come to a full mini-camp on a certain date that you penalize the entire group by making them unavailable for three weeks. The whole thing, believe me, is not about football. If it was, the NFL never would have moved the draft.
I DON'T SEE IT THIS WAY.
Two questions: 1. Why have baseball and basketball been able to figure out a system to test players for HGH and football hasn't? 2. Would you agree that football is better off with a testing policy? I'm tired of the excuses for not testing. I would rather have a test that is very slightly flawed than have another season of football played when, potentially, scores of dirty players gain an unfair advantage over clean ones.
YOU MAKE A GOOD POINT.
That's the first I thought of that, and I agree with you. Why make that point now?