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Charles Woodson is Crazy

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Charles Woodson is Crazy

In what seems to be a pattern of departing Green Bay Packers lobbing verbal grenades over their shoulder on the way out of town, former Green-and-Gold icon Charles Woodson seemed to pen his own obituary as a Packer.

“It’s not going to be tough.  My last team will most likely be the Oakland Raiders and so that’s who I will retire with.  That won’t be a tough decision at all.  A couple of years ago I signed an extension here in Green Bay.  I figured that this will be the last team that I played for and I looked forward to that, but it didn't happen.  So now I’m in Oakland and that’s where I’ll retire.” - WFRV

It would seem to be a very direct dismissal of his time in Green Bay, winning a Super Bowl ring, and resurrecting his flailing career when he departed the Oakland Raiders. Naturally, Packers fans took the stinging remark as a shot to the heart, as naturally happens when a former beloved player disses the hometown team.

Not that Packer fans have had any experience with that over the last five years or so.

It what appears to be a throw-away statement, Charles Woodson seemed to have forgotten how much Packers fans loved and idolized him.  The idea of signing a one-day contract with the Packers isn't an option right now. There could be several reasons for this sudden burst of lemon juice in the wounds already festering by the fans feeling the loss of one of the greatest defensive leaders the team has ever had.

Perhaps he wants to ingratiate himself with his new/old team and their fans by pledging allegiance. Perhaps he has some resentment towards the Packer brass for not letting him finish his career in Green Bay.

Or, maybe, he's just crazy.

Oh, not crazy as in "clinically insane". I mean crazy, as in "desperate". Woodson is at a spot in his career where not a lot of players get to reach--even though the Packers appear to have had more than their share, lately. Charles is dealing with the fast and sudden deterioration of his skills on the field, and like so many other grizzled veterans before him, might be having trouble accepting it.

What are the first stages of coping with loss?  Denial, anger, blaming all come to mind. Like Favre and Driver before him, we fans are more worried about preserving an aging player's legacy with the team. But for that player, who has known nothing else besides football over the first thirty-odd years of his life, there's a desperation to hang on to the only world you know. The money, the fame, the mastery of your craft: all of these come to a screeching halt because you've lost half a step, and there are hungry young kids ready to take your spot.

The patterns aren't pretty. Perhaps the most iconic Packer of all time, Brett Favre, took umbridge to any suggestions that he was no longer the player he once was, and was willing to implode his entire legacy as a Packer in order to get himself to a place he felt he could hang on to that way of life...the only way of life he's ever known. Even Donald Driver stretched out his career one year too long, sitting on the inactive list and also flirting with wearing another team's colors, just to put off his retirement for one more year.

At this point in a career NFL football player, blaming your own body for your demise is hell. You've survived that first 53-man roster cut, the battles in your first few years with other young players' challenging you, the career-ending injury. Not many get to this point, when the average length of an NFL player's career is just three or four short years.

And to be only in your thirties and to be looking at the end of the only career you've known? Some players go behind the mic. Some players try to get into coaching. But most end up out of the game with just their pile of money to live off of until they figure out their lives. The divorce rate for athletes post-retirement is between 60 and 80 percent, while roughly 78% end up bankrupt. Add to that the literal crippling effects of a lifetime of pounding on the body, and its no wonder these Peter Pans never want the story to end.

And in those moments of desperation, you'll say anything to convince someone to let the dream continue for one more season, one more game, one more play, and stave off the silence when the cheering has stopped.

The good news is, however, that this craziness is temporary. Someday, like most athletes, Woodson will come to his senses when his playing days are over and realize where his true legacy lies. The saga of Brett Favre, while perhaps the most extreme of examples, tells the tale of what Woodson will face.

In 2008, with clear signals that the Packers were ready to move on with Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre executed one of the most dramatic divorces in NFL history. His storied skills were no longer wanted, and no matter the efforts of the team or the fans to preserve his legacy, Favre was willing to do anything to continue playing. And, eventually, he got his wish, joining Brad Childress and wildly cheering fans in Minnesota, much to Packer fans' chagrin.

But even at the time, you had the feeling that the Minnesota fans weren't in love with Brett Favre, but the very idea that he might be a messiah, bringing the magic they had so often watched from the sidelines. They thought they could stab Packer fans in the heart by stealing one of their most iconic treasures. They didn't go through the drug addictions, the death of his father. They couldn't name every member of his family or how old his daughters were, as Packers fans could easily rattle off.

Vikings fans didn't love Favre. The loved the idea of Favre.

When the cheering stopped for ol' #4, Brad Childress and most of the players he revived his career alongside were gone. And, slowly, Favre has gotten hit with a hard slap of realization where his legacy survives, damaged though it is. You never hear of Favre Days in Minnesota, where they gleefully, yet temporarily cheered his name. He isn't throwing out first pitches for the Twins or acting as honorary captain for the Vikings. Favre is just another failed messiah in a long line of failed messiahs in Minnesota.

Thus, we have the continued pokes and prods by the Packers' organization to see if the fans are ready to welcome Brett back. You know there's been conversation by both sides, that Favre's craziness has subsided, and he realizes that no one claims him as their legend other than the Packers. He knows it, and has given some contrite statements expressing his regret over how he handled himself in those rocky years.

He was crazy then. But, now he's realizing his mistakes he's made, and where his home really should be. The prodigal son is waiting to return.

The same is true for Woodson. Maybe he'll say some more crazy things between now and the end of his career, throw more potshots at the Packers as he tries to hang on in the twilight of his career. To a degree, you can't fault him. He's a better athlete than 99.99998% of everyone else in the world, but the loss of that 0.00001% is the difference between being an All Pro cornerback and a liability on the field.

The fans in Oakland will welcome him back, for now. It must be a weird feeling for them, now cheering for a guy who was allowed to leave the team almost a decade ago, labeled injury-prone and a burgeoning locker room cancer. To see him move on and become an icon with the Packers must have been difficult for them to swallow.

The Raiders are in love with the idea of Woodson, hoping just a little bit of that Super Bowl magic will rub off on them. And Woodson will buy into it, hook-line-and-sinker, because all he wants right now is to keep extending that career just another season, another game, another play.

Eventually, probably sooner than later, Woodson's skills will erode to the point where he will, again, be considered a disappointment in Oakland, and he again will leave the team without the fanfare that he so desperately craves. Except this time, it will likely be for good, and his playing days will be over.

And, when the cheering has stopped, he'll come to his senses. He'll realize where he was truly loved not only for what he did on the field, but who he was off the field. And he'll look back on his comments made this past Friday and regret them, and come back to Green Bay to make it right, and to live among the legends we all so revere.

And we will cheer for him, the way we should cheer for one of our icons. Even if he went crazy for a little while.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (42) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Well done. CD. Well done.

M's picture

I think you've characterized the situation pretty well.

I suppose the whole "one day contract" thing is a nice gesture for the fans who care. But I've always considered it kind of silly contrivance.

GBPDAN's picture

Great article. Woodson basically needs his diaper changed. After he stops crying, he'll want his security blanket (the Packers) back

TXBadger's picture

CD, I agree with your sentiments, But I would expect Woodson to say what he said. In fact, it's probably the only thing he could say except "I'm not thinking about retirement, I'm playing". He played half of his career in Oakland, and now he's back in Oakland, so he'll retire there. I think the ceremonial retirement is a little silly anyhow. Except for the fact that it's a bit of good publicity for the player and the team, it means nothing. As a leader of the superbowl team and a defensive player of the year with GB, he'll realize that the biggest highlights of his career were during his time with the Packers.

Stroh's picture

"I think the ceremonial retirement is a little silly anyhow."

I agree. The whole sign a one day contract means next to nothing to me. It is a little publicity but not enough to matter to the Packers.

In addition to what you mention about Woods DPOY, he became a HOF candidate in GB, not in Oakland. Soon after he retires Woodson will understand that his best years and the years that made him a Canton HOF player were in GB. He'll be inducted in the Packer HOF before Canton and all will be well w/ him and the Pack.

The TKstinator's picture


Just kidding.

Turophile's picture

His quote didn't look so bad to me. He is living in the present and his quote reflects that.

To be honest, this seems to me like something made out of nothing, at a time when the media is starving for football news.

Martin's picture

Puh I thought, I'm the only one who doesn't read anything in those comments.

fred's picture

Sheesh... talk about making a mountain out a mole hill. I don't see anything in what Woodson said to be upset about.

zeke's picture

"It would seem to be a very direct dismissal of his time in Green Bay..."

I may well be missing something but I don't take that away from his statement at all. I think all he's saying is that he's going to retire when he retires, with whatever team he happens to be playing for at the time.

But if it is his intention to dismiss his time in GB, he does a poor job of it. More of a firecracker than a grenade.

Taco's picture

Agree. If that was a dismissal, it was nothing near direct. I don't think it was even a dismissal. Chuck's not a sentimental guy--big deal. It's only been a few months and he's preparing for training camp, so why would he have any sense of nostalgia right now?

When I retire, my party will be planned by whomever I happen to be working for at the time.

I don't think Chuck's the crazy one here. I think sensitive Packer fans are being crazy. And here I do mean in the "clinically insane" sense. We eventually have to come to terms with the fact that not every departing hero is going to reciprocate our adoration equally. If you look at it objectively, we're the crazy ones--not the players.

Randy's picture

The Packers cut him. The Raiders signed him. He didn't volunteer this answer, he responded to a direct question. Under these circumstances, what was he supposed to say. "I'll be in a Raider uniform, taking Raider money, playing for the the Raider organization that just gave me a chance when no one else was interested, but my heart is still with the Packers." Yeah, that would have been a smart move. He's not crazy. He's pragmatic.


Wait - what words are bitter to Packer fans?

Larry R's picture

Nobody cares about Charles Woodson.

nick perry's picture

Hell I do, the Packers are going to miss his leadership. Personally I'd have liked to see if a deal could have been renegotiated. No way is he worth 11 million but this is the ugly business side of the NFL. T.T. can't worry about what you did for me two years ago. It's a what can you do for me today business. In SB 45 I watched Woodson run stride for stride with Mike Wallace on the play he broke his collarbone. Last season I watched tight ends pull away from him. Father time is undefeated and it's sad when the athlete is the last to see it because it seems to happen overnight.

PackerBacker's picture

Quite a few people in a few years when he is inducted into the Packer HOF.

tundravision's picture

Hey...appreciate your contributions as to whether or not Woodson "meant" anything bad by his comments. I certainly agree that they weren't incendiary (certainly not at the level that Jennings has been), but I do question why you say something like that at all. It's not that hard to be gracious and offer a rose back to your old team and their fans. He essentially said, without being incendiary, "I'm not coming back."

You combine that with how things went this offseason for Woodson and the Packers, instead of taking the quotes in isolation, and I think there's a good case for this being dismissive of his old team, and it was intentional. Not at a criminal level, like that of Jennings or Favre, but for a guy who has been so iconic (and lived through Favregate), he had every chance to be a little more gracious in his words. He chose not to.

zeke's picture

While I think it's a non-issue, I don't get where he's saying "I'm not coming back." Is there more to this statement than what is quoted, or are you getting the context from something else?

Fish . Crane's picture

one thinks we Packer fans and writers are getting even holier with the passing of each and every day..
There is much need for training camp to begin before the pitchforks are out for Ted Hendricks and Bruce Clark.
Yes, the Packers are special...but some perspective please this is not the Halls of Valhalla.

drcpackers's picture

I like Chuck. We'll certainly miss his leadership. It wasn't the preferred way to leave, but, he plays for a different team now. He knows it, we know it. I think his outlook will be different when he retires. He'll be back, for sure. And I'm certain all Packers fans will welcome him back. I know I will.

Piedmont Packer Fan's picture

Woodson is retiring from the last team he plays for. That is his prerogative. He owes the Packers nothing. The Packers owe him nothing. They both got out of each other what they wanted. Green Bay did not treat Woodson like a legacy.

This is the way free agency works.

vikequeen god's picture

I think Woodson is a competitor and he's looking for that edge--same as Jennings and Favre. Football is first and foremost a business for tough men. Pack fans shouldn't take it personally, we should appreciate that we got to watch one of the most singularly gifted athletes in the game play for 16 plus weeks a year. We should appreciate that Wood redefined the slot corner position. We should embrace the edge he brought to games because that's what got us a championship. We had a great run with him, but moving on is part of the football cycle.

Barutan Seijin's picture

Woodson plays pro football, not high school ball. Loyalty is an issue for fans, but it can't be for players or for head offices. The Packer organization didn't really want him around. He moved on, which is about all he can do. What do you want him to say?

This is an offseason molehill.

hayward4president's picture

What is wrong with what he said? He's gonna retire with the raiders cause its the last team he will play for. Makes sense to me. Always has to be drama...

JakeK's picture

This is it? ... What a long and tiresome analysis. ... You sound like a petulant child who feels he's been snubbed by a former idol. ... Maybe you should see if you can arrange a sit-down with Woods and find out his true feelings ... You know, instead of just making up stuff.

California Cheesehead's picture

Are you the intellectual savior of Green Bay Packer fan masses? Your posts are always good for a laugh. You'll overtake Cow in no time, dude. ;)

If you don't like the article, don't read it. If you don't like the site, don't visit it. If you don't like what people post, don't read them. Simple.

UP-Packer's picture


Except the same goes for you. If you don't like his posts, don't read them. He expressed his opinion. It may be abit edgy but it's still called free speech. All your rules apply to yourself also. What are you? The blog-cop? Simple.

JakeK's picture

May as well give it up, UP. ... Cal. Cheesehead's job here has always been as the resident cop. ... He rarely posts on the written blog or football.

PackerAaron's picture

"What a long and tiresome analysis"

That you read. And then commented on.

JakeK's picture

You’re correct. … I read the entire blog and basically hoped by the end that I would get some kind of redemption. … I didn’t. … The few minutes I spent reading and commenting are now lost forever. … However, read all the comments here. … Sounds like most feel the same to varying degrees.

Jake's picture

I also found nothing wrong with what Woodson said.

Skippy's picture

Woodson was everyone's favorite Packer not long ago including mine. There's not nearly as much drama here as the blogger wants people to think. He didn't quit the Packers. The Packers quit him.

Sam's picture

Reggie White didn't retire a Packer, he finished his career in Carolina. His legacy in Green Bay has remained strong. Granted Woodson is no White, but who is? He has been the closest thing to Reggie Green Bay has seen since Reggie White.( Superbowl XLV halftime speech) His Green Bay legacy is firmly cemented, and 21 will certainly be in the ring of honor 5 years after he hangs up the pads. I couldn't careless who he retires with he's a Packers great not a Raider great no matter what happens.

Calabasa's picture

Much ado. Great man, great Packer.

PackersRS's picture

Very good article. I think you capture the essence of what goes on in a future HOF's mind when they get old, and I agree with you in that it's the reason Woodson said what he did.

He's not right by any means, but, like you said, there's a reason for it more than just to spite fans.

And I believe it's umbrage.

JerseyCheese's picture

Yea, I don't think he said anything that would make a Packer fan upset. He thought he would retire as a Packer and didn't. He didn't say anything about the organization, former teammates or fans.

I don't quite get what why you're trying to make his quote negative?

tundravision's picture

As I said, the comment was a bit flippant, a "throw-away" comment that wouldn't have been too hard to throw a bone to the Packers and their fans.

If you take the quote in context with the way things went for him this entire offseason, and because it was directly in response to the question "Would you come back and retire as a Packer?", its not malicious at all, nor did I portend it to be.

But it was a passive, "I will not come back to retire as a Packer." And the crux of the article was to explain that he more than likely will, even if he says he's not going to today.

Nononsense's picture

JakeK - our resident petulant child.

PackersRS's picture

It says a lot about a man that he has a need to attack the writer on a personal level to make a critique.

Bears Love Cheddar Biscuits's picture

When Woodson gets into Canton it won't matter where he retires. The hall doesn't recognize team affiliations when inducting players, so the "impact" of potentially retiring with the Raiders or some other team down the line would be nil.
You have to appreciate the symmetry of his career. Left for dead in Oakland, labeled a prickly personality and locker room cancer, he comes to Green Bay and quickly resurrects his career, becoming the most versatile defender in the league--a veritable pick six ninja. Then, it seems just as quickly the run ends. Two heartbreaking collarbone breaks and he's back to injury prone, riding into the sunset as a Raider, the team from whence he came.

PackerNation's picture

A thinly disguised advertisement for Brett Favre, from his biggest apologist.

Woodson didn't execute two faux retirements in order to play for our chief division rivals. Woodson hasn't gone out and tried to harm the franchise. Woodson hasn't said stupid stuff like "one year in Oakland is worth 10 in Green Bay."

Woodson was a great player for us. He has lost more than 0.00001% and it's pretty obvious to anybody who watches that he's a liability in coverage. The decision to release him was sound and in the best interests of the club.

Ryan's picture

Very well done. I can't really add anything you summed it up pretty accurately.

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