Charles Woodson nabbed 38 of his 55 career interceptions in a Packers uniform, and he also shattered the team record with 10 defensive touchdowns. File/Gannett Wisconsin Media
Charles Woodson spent the seven best years of his NFL life in Green Bay.
Although the Packers wisely cut ties with the 36-year-old defensive back on Friday, Woodson’s legacy is secure.
He will go down as the second-best cornerback in Packers history, behind only Herb Adderley from the Glory Years in the 1960s.
Woodson is also a virtual lock to get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Charles Woodson will be the next cornerback’s name to go up in Lambeau,” said Adderley during a recent interview.
“I think he’s one of the best and he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
For a player like Woodson, who didn’t want to come to Green Bay in the first place, and a general manager like Ted Thompson, who normally abhors signing high-priced unrestricted free agents, things couldn’t have worked out any better.
Inexplicably, no other team but the Packers made a serious offer when Woodson became a free agent in 2006, so he reluctantly showed up in Green Bay. After ironing out some differences with first-year coach Mike McCarthy during that first training camp, Woodson’s career took off.
All told, 38 of Woodson’s 55 career interceptions came in a Packers uniform. He also shattered the team record with 10 defensive touchdowns.
Woodson was so versatile and talented that defensive coordinator Dom Capers used him as a dangerous weapon all over the field.
Woodson was a key component in the Packers’ march to a Super Bowl title two years ago, both on the field and in the locker room, where his inspirational speeches served as a rallying cry.
No player was more respected among his teammates than Woodson. No one was happier than Woodson when the Packers received their championship rings. Nobody was more proud to be invited to the White House for a victory celebration.
Woodson came to love playing in the smallest NFL city and even spent time here in the offseason. He felt appreciated in Green Bay.
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl two years ago, Woodson discussed the difference between playing for the Oakland Raiders and the Packers, and the contrast was vivid.
“Nobody (in Oakland) seemed to want to mention about the fact that I did a lot of that dirty work out there on the field,” Woodson said. “In Green Bay, they really appreciate it. I can’t tell you how many times older people have stopped me and said, ‘You know what, we just respect and we love the way you play the game. We love your hard work. We love the way you stick your nose in there on a tackle.’”
Woodson was scheduled to make nearly $10 million in 2013, so the Packers’ decision to release him was prudent and shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
The Packers need the room under the NFL salary cap to help pay for the future contracts of Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji.
The NFL is a business first, and it didn’t make sense to shell out big money, or any money at all, to a player who will turn 37 in October.
Based on what Woodson’s agent, Carl Poston, said on Friday, Woodson harbors no hard feelings toward the Packers.
And why should he?
The Packers gave Woodson the chance to emerge as one of the best defensive backs of his generation and win a championship.
Conversely, the Packers needed Woodson as much as he needed them. It was the perfect pairing.
The hardest part for both sides was seeing it come to an end.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MikeVandermause.