Woodson Helped Set The Tone for Blossoming Baltimore Franchise

Geoff PeckhamContributor IAugust 6, 2009

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 31:  Rod Woodson answers questions from the media during the The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 press conference at the Tampa Convention Center on January 31, 2009 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When Rod Woodson takes his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend, he’ll speak largely of his time in Pittsburgh. When his legacy is discussed in the years and decades to come, it will be as a Steeler, and rightly so.

But Baltimore fans will always have a soft spot for Woodson in their hearts, even if his primary allegiance is to the Ravens’ greatest rival. Woodson was a key role in the 2000 defense that brought the Super Bowl back to Baltimore. Simply put, Woodson helped put Charm City football back on the map.

Woodson spent ten years in Pittsburgh carving his legacy, before bouncing around the league for the remaining seven. Four of those final seasons he spent in Baltimore, signing as a free agent in 1998. He would go on to start all 16 games of his four seasons with the Ravens, registering 20 interceptions and five touchdowns.

Converting from cornerback to safety once arriving, Woodson was joined by the likes of Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams, and along with Baltimore mainstays like Ray Lewis, Chris McAlister and Peter Boulware, Woodson helped forge a record-setting defense for his lone Super Bowl ring.

Prior to Woodson’s arrival, the Ravens were a young and fledgling franchise still trying to find their way. Woodson’s playmaking and veteran mentality helped set a template for what Baltimore would hope to be.

Nearly a decade after their first championship, the Ravens are considered one of the more dominant defensive teams in the NFL. And Woodson’s legacy is so strong that he will be enshrined into Canton in his first year of eligibility.

He maintains to this day that he never played the game for personal accolades. And while it may not be home, Baltimore gave him the one accolade he likely did care about: a Super Bowl ring.

It was a fitting trade between a veteran player seeking the ultimate prize and a team seeking stability and greatness of its own.

Woodson will be remembered as a Steeler, but when he remembers his finest moment from his playing career, he’ll think of his time in purple.