(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Charles Woodson interview, click on the following attachment: Ep 52: Pro Football HOFer Charles Woodson Joins The Show | Spreaker)
Most NFL players consider the Pro Football Hall of Fame the pinnacle of their careers. Then there’s Charles Woodson.
The former Raiders’ and Green Bay Packers’ defensive back is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, named to the Class of 2021 and scheduled for induction the first weekend in August. That should be cause for celebration … and it is. But if you ask Woodson if it’s the greatest achievement of his pro-football career, he’d wind up shaking his head.
The reason I know is because we asked. And what he told us on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast on fullpressradio.com is that while the Hall is a great honor, it’s not the greatest honor of a glittering 18-year career.
“I would say that the most important accomplishment of my career revolves around team,” Woodson said. “When you think about what you play the game for, you really play the game to win games, to get to the playoffs and to win the Super Bowl.
“I would say my highest achievement really comes from that team aspect and being able to play on a team that was able to put it together for a full season, and then go and punch it in and make it count the last game of the season … which would be the Super Bowl.
"So winning the Super Bowl, to me, was everything. I feel like anytime I touched the field that was the reason why I went out there and played the game the way I did because I was just trying to get to a championship.”
Woodson won that championship in 2010 when, as an All-Pro cornerback for Green Bay, he was part of a squad that beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLV. It wasn’t a great Packers’ team, qualifying for the playoffs as a 10-6 wildcard, but it was a memorable one -- the franchise’s fourth Super Bowl winner.
And Woodson is grateful.
While he started the game, he didn't finish it -- breaking his collarbone while diving for a pass late in the first half. Nevertheless, he made an impact, making an emotional halftime speech that teammates later cited as motivation.
"I just wanted guys to understand how much I wanted it," he said then.
The question, then, is where does the Hall rank among his achievements? After all, this is an individual who had a raft of accomplishments. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, eight-time All-Pro, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-decade choice.
So where does Canton fit in?
“The Hall of Fame is sort of like the validation for the way that you played the game and how well you played the game,” Woodson said. “So, it’s more like the icing on the cake. So is it important? And I’m not trying, of course, to devalue making it into the Hall of Fame. But it was the championship and winning the Super Bowl that was the most important to me.
“It’s the one thing I knew that when I retired, man, if I hadn’t won a Super Bowl then I wouldn’t have felt like my career was fulfilled. But, of course, the Hall of Fame is like that icing on the cake that brings it all together.”