Reflecting on the First Raven in the Hall of Fame
Rod Woodson was not a Raven for very long. In his 17-season career, Woodson was only in Baltimore for four years. His first year he was a cornerback, but Baltimore envisioned to make him a safety to prolong his career. The move proved successful and Woodson had three very good years at free safety for the Ravens.
The most successful season of Woodson's career in Baltimore, coincidentally is the same season the Ravens won the Super Bowl. I don't think the 2000 season for Woodson should be measured by his stats, but rather how he helped stabilize the young, but talented secondary of the Ravens.
Woodson tutored second-year cornerback Chris McAlister, third-year cornerback Duane Starks and fourth-year strong safety Kim Herring into a dominant defensive backfield that made Baltimore's defense difficult to throw the ball on.
Beyond his experience and leadership, Woodson was good at playing center field in the Ravens complex defense. Whenever the defense needed a big play on 3rd-and-long it seemed like Woodson would always step up and make a big play, or give run support in a 3rd-and-short situation.
Woodson’s contributions really started after his position switch to safety. In his three seasons as free safety with the Ravens he was named to three Pro Bowls and was selected as a first-team All-Pro. He continued to impress each year he was a Raven.
There wasn't one huge play of Woodson's career in Baltimore that stood out distinctly, but to me, his time in Baltimore will be remembered as a time when a young franchise needed a stabilizing force. Woodson provided that stabilizing force and won his only Super Bowl ring with a franchise that still is stuck on the one Super Bowl. I also think Woodson’s Ravens legacy can be seen in Ed Reed.
Although the two didn't play together, the Ravens drafted Reed the year Woodson left, general manager Ozzie Newsome knew what kind of safety was needed to be successful on defense.
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