Charles Woodson’s Time with the Packers Made Him a Hall of Famer

Former Packers and Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend in his first year of eligibility. It is a well-deserved honor for the former Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Michigan.

While Woodson spent 11 seasons total with the Raiders and seven seasons in Green Bay, his time with the Packers was when Woodson was at his most dominant.  He intercepted 27 passes with the Raiders and 38 with the Packers despite playing 54 more games in Oakland.

Ironically, Woodson didn’t want to come to Green Bay at all. When he was a free agent after the 2005 season, no other team wanted him. He suffered a broken leg that cut his 2005 season short and many teams questioned Woodson’s attitude. The Packers were the only team interested in his services. Reluctantly, he signed with the Green and Gold.

At first, the fact that Woodson didn’t want to play in Green Bay showed. But he gradually grew to love the town and the Packers organization.

“I came here and played before [with the Oakland Raiders], but all the talk you hear from people that played in Green Bay, it’s like, ‘You don’t want to play there,’” Woodson said two years after he signed with the Pack. “Coming from Oakland, this is day and night. And every account I can remember of someone talking about Green Bay, this was not my type of place. It was everything — organization, nightlife, the whole thing. You know, just being in Green Bay. The talk is always this is no place for a Black man and that’s just how it was.”

At first, Woodson did not have a great attitude, but that quickly changed as he got to know the players and the organization.

“So, when I got there, I just had that reluctance in my heart and in my spirit, and I just couldn't believe I was in Green Bay. It made me combative off the bat, with really kind of everybody,” Woodson admitted. “Once I started playing, got into a few games, and started getting my hands on the ball, things kind of settled down for me,” he said. “I just think the football guys I had around me, Al Harris, Nick Collins, Tramon [Williams], and these guys, they made it work for me.”

Woodson was a star in Green Bay. In fact, he was named the Associated Press’ NFL Defensive Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2011. He made four Pro Bowls in seven seasons with the Packers and was twice named All Pro.

Few players in the modern NFL made as many big plays on defense as Woodson did during his years with the Pack. Not only did he intercept 38 passes, but he scored 10 touchdowns, forced 15 fumbles and recovered six more. He also sacked opposing quarterbacks 11.5 times on blitzes and recorded 29 tackles for loss.

As he matured and his play improved, Woodson became a veteran leader in the Packers locker room. Nick Collins appreciated what Woodson did for his career.

“He took me under his wing and he broke everything down: how to play the game, how to understand the game, how to make reads,” Collins told said. “I remember sitting in the office with him one day. He was like, ‘With your skill level and your talent, there’s no way you shouldn’t average four to five picks every season.’ That went to heart. The more we hung out together, our friendship kept growing and growing. He’s a tremendous guy, friend, teammate – all the above. He’s like an older brother to me. When he left the game, everybody knew who Charles Woodson was with how he played the game and how he carried himself. He was all about business.”

His coaches also appreciated what Woodson brought to the table. Joe Whitt was the Packers cornerback coach during part of Woodson’s time in Green Bay. He knew he had a special player in Woodson who could do more than just cover receivers. “He was so unselfish he made more plays by being so impactful against the run,” Whitt told the Packers Yearbook in 2011. “When he was on the line of scrimmage teams had to roll protection towards him and it ended up putting a running back blocking Clay [Matthews]. What other cornerback can do that? There’s only one. Calling Charles a cornerback is limiting because he’s a different breed. He’s the smartest football player I’ve ever been around.”

Woodson made a speech to the team after the Packers won the 2010 NFC Championship Game in Chicago. President Obama, a Bears fan, indicated he would attend the Super Bowl if Chicago won the game. The Packers had spoiled that idea after defeating the Bears. Woodson inspired the team by saying, “The president don’t want to come watch us at the Super Bowl, guess what? We’re going to see him.”

Woodson started Super Bowl XLV for the Packers but broke his collarbone just before halftime with the Packers holding a 21-3 lead. The Steelers were able to get back into the game with the secondary missing its leader and best player, but the Pack held on for the win and Woodson earned his Super Bowl ring.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers also spoke highly of Woodson. “Charles dominated in a way I never saw anybody dominate before,” Rodgers said in 2019. “The 2009 season, one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever seen. What he did on defense, impacting the game, I’ve never seen a player impact the game that way.”

Now, Woodson is joining the greatest football players of all time in Canton, Ohio. When he looks back at his time in Green Bay, he knows it was an important time in his life.

“That was really a time in my life when I was growing as a person,” Woodson said. “There was a transition that happened there that was a beautiful transition, if you will, so that time was very special.”

Woodson was special too, and Packers fans remember the greatness he brought to Green Bay.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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9 points

Comments (18)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Packer_Fan's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Very good article. And a great player. Well deserved Charles

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Packer_Fan's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Very good article. And a great player. Well deserved Charles

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Johnblood27's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Very good article. And a great player. Well deserved Charles

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Johnblood27's picture

August 09, 2021 at 07:49 am

C'mon man, have a little fun with it.

A down vote? Really?

Lighten up, Francis...

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Jackwagon's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:57 pm

I remember the story that helped change his views of Green Bay. He was going to his car in a parking lot and man and his wife puled up. He wasn't pleased. They just told him that they didn't want anything from him and told him that they're just very happy that he was in Green Bay. I think it was kind of a wake up call about the humble, kind and courteous people in Green Bay.

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Jackwagon's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:58 pm

pulled

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Bearmeat's picture

August 07, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Wood was not DPOY in 2011. Just 2009. And as much as I loved him as a Packer, you can't discount what he did as a Raider in both stints there.

The good news is that NFL players don't "go in" to the HOF as a member of one organization, like Baseball does. CWood is going in as CWood - who happened to be a Packer and a Raider.

Note Brett Favre's purple jersey in Canton. (barf)

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PackfanNY's picture

August 07, 2021 at 01:01 pm

I attended SBXLV in Dallas. I was sitting next to a woman who had a radio. I knew Woodson was hurt but from where I was sitting in the high end zone but didn’t realize how bad. At halftime the woman blurts out Woodson AND Donald Driver were both done for the day. That year was so full of injuries with the “next man up” mentality. But c’mon this was ridiculous. Ruined halftime for me.

Looking back though I really believe these two great veterans still had a tremendous impact in the 2nd half. Even though they couldn’t play all the lessons and their influence was still on the field.

Congrats to Charles Woodson as he takes what he earned as one of the All time greats.

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Lphill's picture

August 07, 2021 at 01:06 pm

Another player the Packers let go too soon , I met him once at a football show he was very affable.

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stockholder's picture

August 07, 2021 at 01:27 pm

Very Nice Read. Awesome player. Best CB ever.

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Since'61's picture

August 07, 2021 at 03:14 pm

stockholder - respectfully, not quite. Greatest CB ever is still Herb Adderley. True shutdown corner, great tackler, plus he was a solid kick returner. He averaged 25.7 yards on 120 KO returns during his career. He had 48 interceptions during his career, 7 returned for TDs and he would have had more but opposing QBs literally stopped throwing to his side of the field. Which was a huge assist for the Packers pass rush and their defense overall. Plus Adderley had a knack for making a big play at key moments during the game. He blocked numerous FGs and PATs coming off the edge which saved at least a few wins for the Packers.

Woodson was great because he could play effectively as a CB, a safety and as a nickel back. In Adderley's time the nickel back didn't exist and CBs never rushed the QB. But as a shutdown corner no one has been better than Adderley. I see a lot of Adderely in Alexander. If Alexander continues to play at his current level or better I can see him joining Adderley and Woodson in Canton someday. Thanks, Since '61

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Paradiseisland77's picture

August 07, 2021 at 01:48 pm

C Wood was one of the coolest and classiest Packers of all time. He left too soon. Should have retired a Packer

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

August 07, 2021 at 01:55 pm

My favorite Packer and Wolverine of all time! I’ll drink a bottle of his wine this weekend in his honor!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

August 07, 2021 at 02:41 pm

Woodson was a super player for the Packers and other than the GREAT Reggie White, Woodson was likely the best free agent signed by the Packers during the last half century.

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Since'61's picture

August 07, 2021 at 02:58 pm

Congratulations to Woodson. His HOF achievement is well deserved. Great player and a great Packer. Thanks, Since '61

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WestWi_Packfan's picture

August 07, 2021 at 03:42 pm

Charles could have played another 2-3 years in GB and been better then what the Packers had in his place. Rogers certainly had a point in his beef with management when we're talking Woodson.

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PhantomII's picture

August 07, 2021 at 05:57 pm

I was watching Woodson highlights last week. In the video someone was holding a sign that said 3/4 of the earth is covered by water.
"THE REST IS COVERED BY CHARLES WOODSON" I got a good chuckle out of that. Thanks for all you did for the Packers Charles. True Greatness is a rarity. A generational talent. Well deserved.

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 08, 2021 at 07:20 am

"It's hard to say where his head is at now, but for what it's worth, Woodson did offer a little insight into this topic back in 2013. Speaking with a Wisconsin radio station, Woodson said: "When it comes [time for the Hall of Fame], I'm going probably with the last team I played for."

So while his run with the Packers should definitely not be discounted during his Hall of Fame induction, it's safe to say that even in Woodson's own eyes, his legacy will always be defined by his time as a Raider."

From Raiders.com. I think the Raiders are a bit delusional, and Charles is a bit bitter about how his time ended in Green Bay. Gil's assessment is 100% correct. Without his time in Green Bay Charles Woodson probably doesn't make the hall of fame. Four Pro Bowl seasons followed by four injury-plagued seasons with a franchise going nowhere and accomplishing nothing. From 2003-2015 (Woodson's last year as a player) the Raiders were perennial basement dwellers, usually finishing with 5 wins or fewer, and it was a coaching merry-go-round. Their best season was 8-8. Maybe Woodson finds a way to still shine through all of that mud, but I doubt it. More likely he would have left the game out of frustration.

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