It's incredibly unusual to see an NFL player still at it approaching the age of 40. It's crazy still for that play to still be performing at a high level. Well, today Charles Woodson turned 39. He is the starting safety on the Raiders' defense and in his 18th NFL season is still one of their best defenders.
His head coach is a former NFL player who had a career that spanned 11 seasons. That is pretty good by most standards. He retired as a player in 1995 at the age of 32, which is about the age a lot of NFL players hang up the cleats. Not Woodson. He's still going strong at age 39. That's something Del Rio could only imagine.
"I imagined it." Del Rio said with a smile. "I imagined that when I was 39 I thought maybe... of course I was a head coach at that time, my first year. I thought I could still do it, but he's doing it. It's pretty impressive to see what he's done."
"These guys are great athletes, ultimate professionals. That's what Charles is; the ultimate professional. The way he takes care of his body and the commitment that he has, the great competitor that he is, it's just amazing to watch."
To give you a better idea of the timeline for these two guys; at the age of 32, when Del Rio retired, Woodson was named to his 5th Pro Bowl. Woodson would be named to the Pro Bowl four-straight seasons from 32-35, along with being named All Pro twice. Then at the age of 35, Woodson was named Defensive Player of the year. By that point, Del Rio had already been an NFL assistant coach for two seasons and joined the Ravens as linebackers coach.
Del Rio was defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panther at age 38. And after one season there, he became head coach of the Jaguars.
It's one thing to play a position like quarterback or kicker at the age of 39 like Peyton Manning is doing or Rich Gannon in his final NFL season. It's quite different to play defensive back at an NFL level.
So, Happy Birthday, Charles. And many more.