Ex-Packer Woodson to retire after 18 seasons

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is all smiles as he visits with former teammate and now Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson (24) after the game at Coliseum stadium.

One day after playing against his former team, Oakland Raiders safety and former Green Bay Packers standout Charles Woodson announced Monday he will retire after the 2015 season.

Woodson, 39, spent seven of his 18 seasons in Green Bay, where he cemented his likely first-ballot Hall of Fame candidacy. The former Packers cornerback will retire as perhaps the greatest defensive back ever to play the game. His 65 career interceptions rank fifth all-time.

In a conference call with Green Bay-based media last week, Woodson appeared to foreshadow his retirement when asked how much longer he thought his body could handle the NFL.

“I know I’ve got enough to finish this season out,” Woodson said last week. “Then after that, man, I don’t know.”

Woodson will retire as a Raider, fittingly. They drafted the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner No. 4 overall out of Michigan. But the two defining seasons of Woodson’s career came with the Packers.

Woodson won the NFL defensive player of the year award in 2009, when he returned three of his league-high nine interceptions for touchdowns. He also forced four fumbles, recovering one, and had two sacks that season.

He helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV title in the 2010 season. Woodson was a vocal leader in the locker room, famously using President Barack Obama’s roots as a Chicago Bears fan to motivate teammates.

Half of Woodson’s eight Pro Bowl appearances came with the Packers. Two of his three first-team All-Pro selections also came in Green Bay.

After a rash of injuries, the Packers released Woodson following the 2012 season. Woodson’s younger brother, Jonathan Patton, remains in Green Bay as a local business owner. He also stays connected to former teammates and coaches. Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt Jr. said he considers Woodson to be one of his best friends.

“Probably the thing that I respect about his game more than most,” Whitt said this month, “is he truly loves the game. That’s why he plays so hard, and he plays so passionate. He’s not doing it for the money. He could really care less about it. He does it because he’s a very prideful man, and he loves to play.

“It bothers him when people don’t think he’s the best. It really bothers him. He goes out there and tries to prove he’s the absolute best at what he does.”

Woodson has added to his remarkable career during his second stint with the Raiders. He is in the midst of one of his most impressive seasons in 2015. His five interceptions are tied for sixth in the NFL.

Woodson had three tackles, including one tackle for loss, in the Packers’ 30-20 win against the Raiders on Sunday.

“I think he’s clearly a generational player,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said last week. “We definitely enjoyed our time here with him, and you know it’s a privilege to be a part of his career."

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