The theme of the Raiders newest veteran additions this off-season has been preached over and over. Most of them were given up on by their former team and have something to prove. The two names most Raiders players are consistently excited to call teammates are Justin Tuck and Lamarr Woodley.
Tuck and Woodley both have been to multiple Super Bowls and the two of them are expected to add much needed pass rush to a Raiders team that was starved for it last season. But most of all, they are simply well-respected players who somewhat surprisingly hit the market this off-season - Tuck was allowed to leave as a free agent and Woodley was cut as a cap casualty.
Both players also had worn one uniform their entire career up to this point and therefore were forced to see themselves donning the jersey of another team for the first time as an NFL player. It's not an easy thing to do for players who each twice led their respective teams to the top of the mountain.
"When I look at guys like Woodley and Tuck coming from other teams, I think most guys would like to play for the team that they were drafted to," said Woodson. "And those guys came up on a situation where the team wanted them back but they wanted them back on their terms, and they had to make a decision do they come back or do they move forward. And so I know those guys feel like they have much more value than what their previous teams thought they had. So, there's no doubt those guy have some extra incentive to come in here and show that they're still great players in this league."
Woodson is uniquely qualified in his understanding of the decision Woodley and Tuck had to make. He's had to make that decision twice.
After eight seasons with the Raiders, he and the team disagreed on his worth. At the age of 30 - the same age as Tuck and a year older than Woodley -- he had to make the tough decision to leave the team that drafted him and head to Green Bay. This was after he had led the Raiders to the playoffs several times and ultimately to the Super Bowl.
He spent seven years with the Packers, eventually getting his Super Bowl ring. Then at the age of 36, just a season removed from earning Defensive Player of the Year, the Packers finally decided it was time to move on. Woodson would again have a tough decision to make.
He knew he still wanted to play. Initially he had said he wanted to go to a contender to have another shot at a ring but after seeing little serious interest, he decided it was time to return to finish his career where it started.
It didn't end there either. After playing all 16 games in his one-year contract with the Raiders, he shows no signs of stopping. The guy who already has NFL 16 seasons under his belt wants a 17th. And with the team not locking him up early, he was again faced with the possibility of a tough decision. This time it was retirement.
The Raiders obviously eventually decided to re-sign him which made his decision an easy one. But at 37-years old, with what is for some two careers worth of football, few players have a greater understanding of what guys like Tuck, Woodley, James Jones, and Maurice Jones-Drew are going through. In fact he could literally tell them ‘You don't know the half of it.'