|Rod Woodson was
one of the best defensive backs in NFL history, the former Purdue Boilermaker
holds the records for career interception return yardage (1,483), interception
returns for touchdowns (12) and was named the NFL Defensive Player
of the Year in 1993. His 71 career interceptions is the 3rd-most in
NFL history. He was an inductee of the Class of 2009 of the Pro Football
Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on August 8, 2009.
Rod Woodson attended R. Nelson
Snider High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He played defensive
back and a variety of offensive skill positions and was all-state
his junior and senior seasons. in addition to football, he won
both the high and low hurdles state championships in both his junior
and senior seasons; and played varsity basketball his junior and
senior seasons, making all conference his senior year.
In 1987, Woodson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the
10th overall draft pick. He returned punts and played defensive
cornerback for Pittsburgh through the 1996 season.On November
22, 1987 he was listed third on the depth chart in a game against
the division rival Cincinnati Bengals played at Cincinnati’s
Riverfront Stadium, Woodson was inserted into the secondary.
In the final minute of the second quarter, he recorded his first
career interception when he picked off a Boomer Esiason pass.
He was a fan favorite and a banner that hung for years in Three
Rivers Stadium stated: "Rod Is God". A highlight came
in 1995 when Woodson became the first player to return from reconstructive
knee surgery in the same season. That year he tore his ACL against
the Detroit Lions in the first game and returned to play in the
Super Bowl XXX between the Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys just
19 weeks later. In that game, he broke up a pass intended for Michael
Irvin, hopped up and pointed at his reconstructed knee. In a game
against the Houston Oilers, Woodson hit Hall of Fame quarterback
Warren Moon on a cornerback blitz. The hit gave Moon a concussion
and forced him to leave the game.
Woodson's career took a somewhat nomadic turn after free agency
from Pittsburgh, after the Rooney family elected not to renew his
contract over a pay dispute as well as the salary cap. Although
he remained to raise his family in Pittsburgh and later made amends
with the Rooneys, he hopped
between three additional franchises, becoming one of the few modern
cornerbacks to successfully make a transition to the safety position,
following in the footsteps of Ronnie Lott. Woodson signed with
the San Francisco 49ers for the 1997 season, the Baltimore Ravens
for the years 1998 to 2001 (where he won Super Bowl XXXV), and
the Oakland Raiders for 2002 and 2003 (where he appeared in his
third Super Bowl). In the Raiders 2002 Super Bowl season, 37-year
old Woodson led the NFL in interceptions (8) for the first time
in his career. His last interception came on November 16, 2003
against the Minnesota Vikings’ Daunte Culpepper.
Rod Woodson is among the NFL's all time leaders in games played
as a defensive back and interceptions. In his 17 NFL seasons, Woodson
recorded 71 interceptions, 1,483 interception return yards, 32
fumble recoveries (15 offensive and 17 defensive), 137 fumble return
yards, 4,894 kickoff return yards, 2,362 punt return yards, and
17 touchdowns (12 interception returns, 1 fumble return, 2 kickoff
returns, 2 punt returns). He holds the league record for interceptions
returned for touchdowns with 12, and is tied with 11 other players
for the record for most fumble recoveries in a single game (3).
His 1,483 interception return yards are also an NFL record. His
71 interceptions rank 3rd all time.
Woodson was named to the Pro Bowl eleven times, a record for a
defensive back. He was also the first player to earn trips to the
Pro Bowl at cornerback, safety and kick returner.
He was also a 7 time All-Pro selection. Woodson finished second
to Darrell Green in the 1988 NFL Fastest Man Contest.
In 1994, he was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team. What
made it notable was that Woodson was one of only five active players
to be named to the team. The others were Jerry Rice, Joe Montana,
Reggie White and Ronnie Lott. In 1999, he was ranked number 87
on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
The College Football News has also honored him as one of the 100
greatest players of the 20th century.
Since 1994, Woodson has operated an annual youth football camp,
the Woodson/Fabini Football Camp, on the grounds of his former
high school. He is also a partner in Woodson Motorsports, a BMW
motorcycle dealership and repair shop in Fort Wayne.
Currently Woodson splits his time between NFL Network studios
in Los Angeles, his home in Pleasanton,and his cottage in Coldwater,
Michigan. He was also part of the studio team for BBC Sport's NFL
coverage in 2007, including Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLIII.