Charles Woodson is one of the most adored NFL players of his generation.
At the age of 39 he retired from football as the 2015 season came to an end. He spent 11 of his 18 seasons with the Oakland Raiders, including the beginning and end of his distinguished career with that franchise.
Even so, history will remember him as a Green Bay Packer first. Why? Because even though he spent less time in Green Bay, he was vastly more impactful and dominant while playing for the green and gold.
Of course people living in the Bay Area will forever associate Woodson with Raider Nation, but nationwide, decades from now, he’ll be remembered for what he accomplished in Green Bay.
The under-30 Woodson was extremely talented, but he wasn’t close to the player or man that he would become. As his career winds to a close, he is a surefire first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee and is considered on of the best all-around defensive backs in NFL history.
He, appropriately, announced that he would retire following the Raiders’ game with the Packers (a game in which he forced a fumble). His career had finally come completely full-circle. The game following that announcement would be his final home game in Oakland.
Immediately following his final home game in front of Raider Nation, which was an exciting OT-win, he still felt the need to give a nod to Green Bay. This is because he knows he owes his legendary status in the NFL to his time with the Cheeseheads. Postgame he said, “It’s been an unbelievable ride. It’s been a dream come true to play in the NFL. I played for two great organizations. There aren’t many people who can say that and I was able to do it. It’s been a great ride.”
It sure has been, Charles. And we’re glad that your seven years in Green Bay were the most rewarding of that ride. Today, people associate him with Oakland because that is where he last played, but we must keep perspective when thinking about history. We put this piece together so everyone can keep perspective.
Below, we look at the raw numbers to unequivocally prove why Woodson will always be remembered as a Packer first. On page two of this piece we look at Woodson’s intangibles and evolution into the elite player and leader that he would become; a transformation that occurred in Green Bay.
When Woodson enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame he will be given “primary contribution” status to both Oakland and Green Bay (much like how Reggie White is listed as a primary Hall of Fame inductee for both the Eagles and Packers). He’s a rare player that entered the league as a Pro Bowler in his rookie season and will leave the league a Pro Bowler in his final season — that says everything you need to know about him.
But it was his time in Green Bay that turned him into a Hall of Fame-worthy player, and here are the numbers to prove it.
Here Are The Facts:
To understand how rare of a player Charles Woodson was, just look at the numbers. He is the only player in NFL history to hit the 60 interception and 20 sack plateau (actually he’s the only one to hit the 50-20 mark).
Woodson’s 65 career interceptions are the fifth-most in NFL history.
He spent 11 seasons in Oakland and made 27 interceptions. In just seven seasons in Green Bay, he intercepted 38 passes.
Of his 20 career sacks, he registered just 8.5 of them with Oakland, in 11 seasons. He registered 11.5 sacks in seven years in Green Bay.
Woodson is tied for the most defensive touchdowns (13) in NFL history with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper. Of those 13 touchdowns, a whopping 10 of them came with the Packers (the most in NFL history for a player with a single team). Yes, that means he ‘only’ scored three touchdowns in Oakland, despite playing four more seasons with the Raiders.
He scored a defensive touchdown in six consecutive seasons with the Packers (six of his seven seasons). The only season in Green Bay that he didn’t score a touchdown was his final with the Packers (2012) when he played just seven games due to injury.
Statistically, the top four seasons of his career came in Green Bay. Those seasons were 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 (all with a minimum of seven interceptions). He never intercepted more than five passes in a single-season in Oakland. Woodson intercepted at least four passes in nine separate seasons in his NFL career, with five of those seasons coming in Green Bay.
Woodson’s longest career interception return was 62 yards, which he did in 2008 with the Packers. His career-high for forced fumbles in a season (5) came in 2010, also with the Packers.
He posted four-consecutive multi-sack seasons from 2008 to 2011 in Green Bay (sevens times in his career he posted at least two sacks in a single season, three were with Oakland).
He helped the Packers make five playoff appearances in his seven seasons. In Oakland, he went to the playoffs just three times in his 11 seasons. Of course, the talent around him was quite varied, especially at the quarterback position. But it’s still worthy of note when it comes to his impact on NFL history.
The Packers even utilized Woodson’s return ability at a much higher rate than the Raiders. He amassed 631 punt return yards in Green Bay and averaged 8.4 yards per return. In Oakland he collected just 105 punt return yards with an average of 7.0 yards per return.
His Average Season With Both Franchises:
His average season in Green Bay: 5.42 interceptions, 2.14 forced fumbles, 1.64 sacks, 1.42 touchdowns, 54.14 tackles, 14.14 passes defended, and 0.85 fumbles recovered.
His average season in Oakland: 2.45 interceptions, 1.63 forced fumbles, 0.77 sacks, 0.27 touchdowns, 54.36 tackles, 5.09 passes defended, and 1.09 fumbles recovered.
These averages speak for themselves as to which team he should be remembered with, once the dust of his career is settled.
His Greatest Accomplishments Broken Down By Team:
- Charles Woodson played in 10 playoff games with the Packers and in just seven playoff games with the Raiders. He made a Super Bowl appearance with both teams, but won his only Super Bowl Championship with Green Bay (although he did intercept a pass in his Super Bowl loss with Oakland).
- He was invited to four Pro Bowls in sevens seasons in Green Bay (57% of seasons) and was invited to five Pro Bowls in 11 seasons in Oakland (45% of seasons).
- Woodson was named First-Team All-Pro twice with the Packers and just once with the Raiders.
- He won one AP Defensive Player of the Year award. That came in 2009 while he was playing in Green Bay. He did not win that award in Oakland.
- Twice Woodson led the NFL in interceptions (2009, 2011) and he once led the NFL in defensive touchdowns (2009) — those seasons were with the Packers, never in Oakland.
- The most passes he ever defended in Oakland was 11, in 2001. With the Packers, Woodson posted seasons with 20, 18, 17, 17, and 13 passes defended in five different seasons.
- Woodson won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in Oakland, obviously didn’t have a chance to win that specific award in Green Bay.
- He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame all-2000s team, undoubtedly for his time in Green Bay, specifically the stretch from 2006-2009 (look at his statistics).
- Woodson has the most defensive touchdowns in Packers history (10), despite playing just seven seasons in Green Bay. He scored just two defensive touchdowns with the Raiders.
- He is second in Packers history with 15 forced fumbles and 99 passes defended. His 11.5 sacks are also second-most all-time (for defensive backs). Plus, his 568 interception return yards are fifth all-time in team history and his 379 solo tackles are ninth in team history, again, despite playing just seven seasons with the Pack. Not to mention, he’s fourth in team history in interceptions. In comparison, Woodson is eighth all-time in Raiders history for interceptions and is tied for 14th all-time in defensive touchdowns in franchise history.
These aren’t opinions, folks, these are simple facts. His impact in Green Bay was far more significant.
And it is undebatable that Charles Woodson would not have become a future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee without his time spent in Green Bay.
To read Part Two of this argumentative piece about Woodson, hit page 2!