The day Rod Woodson retired, quarterback and receivers all over the NFL breathed a sigh of relief.
Known as one of the smartest and fastest players in NFL history, Woodson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 10th overall draft pick in the 1987 draft. He would get the first of many interceptions at the latter part of the year, against division rival Cincinnati, and Boomer Esiason.
He played well for the Steelers, both in the defensive backfield and also returning punts. In 1995, his career took a unique turn as he suffered a torn ACL against the Detroit Lions in the season opener and it looked as if he season was over. However, he became the only player to return from reconstructive knee surgery in the same season as 19 weeks later he returned to play in the Super Bowl XXX between the Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys.
After a contract dispute with Pittsburgh, due to a pay dispute and salary cap concerns, Woodson signed with the San Francisco 49ers for the 1997 season, where he made a successful transition to safety. After one year by the Bay, he went over to the Baltimore Ravens for three years, playing on the Ravens Super Bowl championship team in 2001. In 2002 he traveled back across country to play for Oakland, where he appeared in his third Super Bowl. In the Raiders 2002 Super Bowl season, 37-year old Woodson led the NFL in interceptions for the first time in his career. His last interception came on November 16, 2003 against the Minnesota Vikings’ Daunte Culpepper.
Thanks to AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar from Flickr.com for this great picture of Steelers' Rod Woodson (26).
Woodson is among the NFL's all time leaders in games played as a defensive back. His 32 fumble recoveries are a record amongst defensive players. 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 named 1993's NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, and was also a seven time All-Pro selection. In 1994, he was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, which was notable since he was one of only five active players to be named to the team.
On January 31, 2009, Woodson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility becoming the 18th Steelers-related person to be enshrined.
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