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Charles Woodson to Retire: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2015

Oct 6, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson (24) reacts at the end of the game against the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive back Charles Woodson will officially call it quits after the 2015 NFL season.

The 39-year-old playmaker announced his retirement Monday, capping what will almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Fame career. The Oakland Raiders shared the news on Twitter

"It's been an emotional day," Woodson told reporters. He added that he could deal with the physicality of the game but not the mental aspect of it, per Scott Bair of CSN California. 

General manager Reggie McKenzie released a statement regarding Woodson's decision: 

Charles Woodson is one of those players that comes along and reminds you why you love the game. He is truly a one of a kind player that goes above and beyond his Heisman Trophy and future gold jacket. It has been an honor to have worked alongside Charles for so many years and have the confidence to call him what he truly is: the G.O.A.T. He is, without a doubt, the embodiment of what it means to be a Raider.

Woodson, the 1997 Heisman winner, spent his entire professional career with the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers. Picked fourth overall in the 1998 NFL draft by Oakland, Woodson worked through some initial fits and starts to become one of the league's best defensive backs. He will retire with eight Pro Bowl appearances (unless he is named to the team following the 2015 campaign).

ESPN's SportsCenter highlighted the infamous "Tuck Rule" play Woodson made against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the 2001 playoffs that ended up being one of Woodson's most memorable moments in the NFL:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Charles Woodson will be forever linked with one of the most controversial plays in NFL history... The Tuck Rule. https://t.co/HU61A027Zo

Woodson may have been a career-long Raider if it weren't for injuries. He missed 22 games over the last four seasons of his first stint in the Bay Area, and he was usurped by Nnamdi Asomugha as the team's top cornerback. After sitting out 10 games in 2005 because of a broken leg, Woodson rejuvenated his career with a move to Green Bay.

Thanks in large part to a different scheme and responsibilities, Woodson thrived with the Packers. He recorded eight interceptions in 2006, four picks a year later and started a string of four straight Pro Bowl appearances in 2008.

Jan 5, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Green Bay Packers safety Charles Woodson (21) celebrates a play during the fourth quarter of the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field.  The Packers won 24-10.  Mandatory Credit: Jeff H
USA TODAY Sports

The best individual season of Woodson's career came in 2009, when he won the AP Defensive Player of the Year award. He set career highs with nine interceptions and three defensive touchdowns and showed significant improvement against the run—all in his mid-30s. It was one of many successful adjustments Woodson made throughout his time in Green Bay, where he took on multiple roles to prolong his NFL career. 

A year after claiming his biggest individual honor, Woodson captured his only Super Bowl ring with the Packers. The victory was bittersweet for Woodson, who broke his collarbone in the first half and had to sit out as Green Bay held off the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

The Packers released Woodson following the 2012 season, but the Raiders brought him back and then signed him to a one-year contract extension before the 2015 season. Playing at safety full time for the first time in his career, Woodson set career highs in tackles in 2013 and then again in 2014. Last year, he finished with a team-high 111 tackles and four interceptions, and he has five picks in 2015.

"The funny thing is, I never thought about getting to 17 [seasons]," Woodson said last year, per Michael Wagaman of ESPN.com. "I'm not thinking about going into the 40s, but I don't know. I'm playing well. If we're just comparing to other safeties or DBs in the league, I think I would fare pretty well in that respect. And I'm having fun playing." 

Dec 27, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders former cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha poses at press conference to announce his retirement at Oakland Raiders Practice Facility. From left: Willie Brown and Mark Davis and Asomugha and Charles Woodson and Cliff
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Had he decided to come back in 2016, Woodson may have struggled to generate much interest in free agency, with teams worrying about his declining foot speed at a position that seems to be getting more important by the year.

With 18 seasons of largely elite play behind him, though, it's safe to say fans will revere Woodson for the many memorable moments he delivered on his way to a spot in the Hall of Fame.

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