When Charles Woodson left the Raiders some seven years ago, it wasn't under the best of terms. He had hoped he would play his entire career with the Raiders but when it came down to it, Al Davis just didn't want to pay the Pro Bowl corner what he thought he was worth. So he moved on.
"Yeah, it was pretty much done. I know my agents talked to the organization a few times, but as far as me, there was really no communication," Woodson said of his 2006 departure from the Raiders. "It was kind of the writing on the wall that I was no longer going to be a Raider and I went my way and the Raiders of course went their way."
This sounds very much like the case with Nnamdi Asomugha when his time with the Raiders came to an end. Al Davis decided he was moving on from the All Pro cornerback and left Nnamdi waiting for a phone call that never came. He eventually signed on with the Eagles for a manageable $11 million while Davis overpaid other Raider players. Since then, Asomugha's career has taken a serious downturn.
As for Woodson's NFL career since, things have worked out considerably well. He left the Raiders a few seasons removed from three of their most successful season since their Super Bowl glory days of the early 80's and headed to a team in Green Bay on the rise to its own return to Super Bowl glory.
Woodson did a lot of growing up in those years along with seeing greater personal success than he had in his first eight seasons with the Raiders. But amidst the All Pro bids and Super Bowl victory, he lost all contact with the man who drafted him.
"Man, I haven't talked to Al Davis since I left and that's one of the things I look back on that I didn't do when I left is really have a conversation with him when I left the Raiders. So, I didn't get a chance to speak with him and I wish I had."
One thing about Al Davis, his motto was ‘once a Raider, always a Raider'. There were some caveats to that rule for those who crossed him and brought forth his wrath - Marcus Allen was the most glaring example. But bad blood always subsides. And like Allen - who returned to light ‘the fire that burns brightest' at a Raider game this season - Woodson has returned to the mothership as well.
"This is like a second home to me as well," Woodson reminisced. "Drafted here. Spent eight years here. Had great years here. We had a lot of ups and downs but I loved it here. I still have people I consider family here... just being in this building, seeing the fans at the gate coming in, it was gonna be hard to leave (without signing)."
This return home is very nostalgic for Woodson but with one very noticeable difference.
"Oh man, really the only difference is the big guy's not here," said Woodson. "I think that's really it. Knowing that you're not going to see him come out onto the field at any point in time this season is really the different feel to this organization. But I know this organization is in good hands with Mark (Davis) taking over and bringing in Reggie (McKenzie) to come in here and try and get the Raiders back on the right track. So, in that sense it feels good and there's definitely a positive feel to it."
Though the 15-year veteran never thought he'd be back with the Raiders, he's happy he's here. As he says "I guess that's the way life works."