Charles Woodson is now and Oakland Raider. I had a chance to speak with him via conference call Wednesday. Here is what he had to say.
Q: As you were making the trip, had you gotten wind of the fan support you were going to receive?
Woodson: Yeah, I had gotten word that they were going to do it. I didn't know if it was a fact that it was going to be done, but I got word it was going to happen.
Your impression of driving in and the whole experience?
I'll tell you, man, it was overwhelming. I think that if at any time I'd ever forgotten what the love was like in Oakland, I was definitely reminded yesterday.
What factor would you say the fan gathering played a part in signing back with the Raiders?
Oh, I think it played a big part. I think I was actually scared of leaving the facility and not having a deal done. I don't know if I would have made it out of there. But that was a big deal, and receiving that kind of welcome, it definitely put me in a mindset that it would be a good decision to make it happen.
You talked about playing for a contender, Raiders coming off four-win season, what attracted you to come to Oakland after talking to other teams, including Denver?
Well, that was definitely my sentiment going into free agency that I wanted to go and finish up somewhere that was on the verge. Certainly, a couple of teams that brought me in, San Francisco and Denver, obviously two teams that have that chance. Those two places didn't work out. Just as the process kind of rolled on, I knew I wanted to play football, regardless of really where I played. At that point I had to figure out what I wanted to do, and playing football was what I wanted to do so it was going to be somewhere, if it was a team that wasn't quite there but still is a team that is looking on the up, then I was going to do it. And I feel that the Raiders are a team that are looking on the up.
Did the Raiders have to sell you on the idea that they were up and coming, or since you had a background with Reggie McKenzie, what role did that play?
That definitely played a role because we're familiar with each other. But after talking to Reggie, I got a good feel about how he felt about the team and that just really gave me confidence that they're going in the right direction. Going into the facility yesterday, I felt good about where things stood, and if I signed I was going to be going to a team that has good players on the team. The game is about fundamentals and playing good football, and they have some good players, and if we can put it together then we'll win games.
Can you talk about the process with Denver, and what kind of role did they want you to fulfill?
Just typical free agent stuff. You go in, you meet, you talk, and the meeting went really well with the coaches. I think we all pretty much hit it off. But there's always of course the business side of it that sometimes comes up short. So it didn't work out. This situation did. So here I am, an Oakland Raider again.
You were only in the building for an afternoon, but could you already tell the difference in the vibe from the last time you were in in 2005 with Mr. Davis running the organization?
I think having Reggie in there, and having somebody that's really in that decision-making role other than Mr. Al Davis is definitely a different vibe. It seems like there's more of a control factor as far as what they want to do and what they want to implement as far as their team is concerned. I think it's a good vibe in there.
When you left here you were a Pro Bowl player four times, went to Green Bay, your career was good here, great in Green Bay. What were the causes for you taking your career to the next level?
I think toward the end of Oakland, there was some injuries that kind of kept me off the field. Then I think that team-wise, we weren't a very good team. I think that people just look at you as an individual and say, `If the team's bad, you're bad.' I definitely didn't play bad football my last y ears. I actually played pretty good football. Going into Green Bay was just a fresh start and I was able to stay on the field and go out there and do my thing and I had opportunity. When I got over there, quarterbacks were testing me a lot more than they had at any time in my career, and it gave me ample amount of opportunity to get the ball, and I was able to get my hands on a lot of balls, make a lot of interceptions and people started to notice again what kind of player I was.
Was signing here a vote of confidence playing with Matt Flynn who you played with in Green Bay?
I think the vote of confidence comes from the coaching staff. They brought him in here, Reggie brought him in here feeling that he was gonna be a big piece. My concern is playing on the defensive side. The offense will take care of itself, but I want to be a part of a defense that's gonna be a dominant defense, a defense that keeps us in games, and so I'm excited about that aspect of it and getting with a bunch of guys that are ready to fly to the football.
You have always been known as a sure tackler, what do you bring to the Raiders?
You know what, I'm just gonna bring the intensity. I'm a football player so I'm gonna bring a lot of intensity, somebody that's passionate about the game, and a guy that knows how to make plays. That's what I'm going to bring. I think when guys watch me play, I think that raises the level of other guys because of the way I play the game. I'm gonna bring that mindset, that mentality to the game, the same as I always have and have fun doing it.
Do you have season like Rod Woodson had when he signed with the team in 2002 left in you?
I plan on it happening. I wouldn't be out there trying to continue to play if I didn't think it was going to happen. I would have just retired if I thought I couldn't go out there and be the best player on the field. I'm going in there with the mindset that i'm going to be the best player on the field. That's how I feel.
Collarbone is great.
Right now it probably will be the same it was last year, come in and play the safety role. I know they have guys they brought in at the corner position Jenkins, Porter and the young kid Hayden. Their corner position looks to be pretty solidified. I'll play my role at the back end and roam around the field and make plays.
Talk to Porter about No. 24?
A: No we'll definitely have to have that conversation. We haven't had it yet. Raider Nation has me back but I don't know if they'll have me back without the 24 on my back.
What role did wine business have in decision?
Zero. This was all about football. It was all about continuing my football career and having an opportunity to go out there and help the team win. That's the bottom line for me.
Role as mentor?
I'll do my part. I try to not to step on any coaches toes as far as what I'm telling the young guys or what I'm trying to give them. I told guys to ask questions and I'll always be there to answer those questions. Whatever I can do, whatever input I can give those guys that's definitely what I will do. If I could be a help to them and it will help us win ultimately I have to do it.
Recognize anyone in building?
Seabass is the only player but there were plenty of people that I still knew _ equipment guys, film guys, Willie Brown of course. It was great. It had been a while since I had seen Willie Brown. He is one of my favorite people ever. It was great to see him and give him a big hug. We always joke about who the real 24 is. It was good to have that bark and forth with him. Getting the deal done and calling him and saying, 'Willie Brown, I'm coming back. The real 2-4 is coming back.' It felt good to be in that building. It felt good.
Talk about a role after playing days?
I haven't thought about that. I haven't discussed that with anybody. Right now I'm just focused on learning what I need to learn as far as different terminology and understanding defense and the way it's played and getting in and helping this team develop.