"I appreciate you guys being here on short notice for what's about to happen. I felt I needed to talk to our local media first. You guys are the eyes and ears of Raider Nation, our Raiders community, to let them all know that 2015 is going to be my last season playing in the NFL. Was it a tough decision? Kind of, but in a way, a couple of weeks ago it hit me that this would be it. It was important for me to let Raider Nation know now. I originally intended on deciding in the offseason what would happen, but decided against that being that this would be the last time that I would be able to play in the Coliseum, and I felt it was only right that Raider fans, my fans, fans that have watched me play for, you know, a long time, that I let them all know that this Thursday night would be the last time in the Coliseum, that I would be able to run out there in front of our fans at home in the Coliseum. There you have it. An incredible career, man. It goes beyond words. I never intended on playing as long as I have, but this is the way it's happened and I'm so grateful for it. I informed [Raiders Owner] Mark Davis and [General Manager] Reggie McKenzie, [Head Coach] Jack Del Rio. I had a meeting with our team earlier today and informed them that this would be it. There you have it, man. I'm very grateful that I was able to come back here and play for a second time around. It was a lot of fun. We didn't get a chance to accomplish what we would have liked to this year as a team, but nevertheless, I had a great deal of fun playing. I've still got a couple of games left to still go out and do what I've been doing all of my life. With that, I'll take any questions."
Q: How gratifying is it to go out playing at the high level you're currently playing at?
Woodson: "It feels good. There are so many players that played this sport and other sports that would like to go out that way, playing well, doing what they love to do. So yeah, I feel very good about the way I performed, not only this year, but my whole career. It's the only way you're able to play as long as I have, is to go out there and perform. To be performing at the level that I have this year, it just makes it all that much better."
Q: Have you gone back and forth with the decision or have you known for a while?
Woodson: "It's funny, man. I knew the morning of the Detroit game. I woke up that morning and for whatever reason, I knew it. It was weird, actually, but I knew it at that point in time that this was going to be it."
Q: What do you expect Thursday night to be like? Not only will it be your final home game, but it could also be the final Raiders game at the Coliseum.
Woodson: "It will be emotional. I've been emotional all day, really, so it will be that way Thursday for myself, for my family, friends, for Raider Nation. I feel like coming back here and playing for the second time, we were able to rekindle something that we had years ago, so it was really fun, man, coming back here and playing. So it will be a pretty emotional day."
Q: When you talked to the team today, was it hard to get it out?
Woodson: "Yeah, it was really hard. Talking to Reggie, talking to Jack, talking to Mark today, it was hard to get it out. Then getting up there in front of your teammates and letting them know. So many of [my] teammates throughout this year have talked to me about next year. ‘Come back next year,' ‘I know you're coming back next year,' and I would love to, because it's what I feel about the organization, where I feel like it's headed. Where it's going, it would be great to grow with this group of guys. Honestly, I think physically I could do it. My body has responded, but mentally it's not there, not going to happen."
Q: As a capper to the career, where is the day going to fit in that you came back to Oakland in 2013 and all the fans met in the parking lot imploring you to sign?
Woodson: "Yeah, that's going to rank pretty high. I didn't really know what to expect when I came back here to visit on that day. I had started getting some word that people were going to gather here on my return. But still, until you actually get here and see it, you don't really know what it's going to be like. That day was pretty awesome to come here and pull up and see all of the Raider fans still having love for me. That was really cool."
Q: What are your favorite memories from playing in the Coliseum?
Woodson: "Just being able to run out there when they introduce you as a player. When they introduce the defense and you're able to run out there and they announce your name. To hear the crowd roar is pretty magical. Winning the AFC Championship the year we went down before we went to San Diego to play Tampa. That was a pretty special moment. Being all that I had gone through with the injuries and to make it to that point and have an opportunity to go play in the Super Bowl, that was pretty special as well. I've been a part of other days where players had great moments. Tim Brown, I think it was 1,000 catches. I was there for that. It's been a lot of moments, man. Almost too many."
Q: How good does it feel to know that two years ago the team was in a certain position and it's moving in a better direction? Does that make you feel better about stepping away now?
Woodson: "It feels really good because I do feel like the organization is in a great place for going forward. I think they're under great leadership under Jack Del Rio. I think Reggie has done a great job for what he inherited when he came. I guess you always want to leave a place better than when you came in. I feel like this organization and this team is definitely in a better place."
Q: Did you tell any of your former Packers teammates yesterday when they'd ask?
Woodson: "No, I didn't tell anybody, but I got asked a few times. ‘A-Rod' [Aaron Rodgers] was like, ‘Man, come back next year.' And I was like, ‘Yeah, you know, we'll see.' So I had a few people ask me the last couple of days. It was like most people knew. ‘Hey, what are you going to do? Are you coming back next year?' I held them off as long as I could."
Q: Is there anything next for you besides the winery?
Woodson: "Besides that, I don't know, man. Maybe. We'll see what happens. I know there will be a lot of opportunities to explore going forward. Right now, it'll be about the family and then we'll go from there."
Q: What will you miss most about playing?
Woodson: "Standing on the sidelines before games. The National Anthem, just really listening to it, listening to the words. You know this is a great, great country that we live in to be able to play this great game. I'll miss that moment. I'll miss away games. I'll miss packing up, gathering what you need, the players that you need. That's all you have. You take it, you go on the road and you're going in there into someone else's stadium trying to win a game at their home. I'll miss that. I'll miss that traveling and just taking what's necessary to get a win."
Q: You've spent almost half of your entire life as an NFL player. When you think about when you came here as a rookie, are you amazed when you look back on who you are now?
Woodson: "Definitely. I have definitely grown a lot. Not just myself, but any player coming in. You don't really know what to expect. You're fresh out of college. I was coming off a championship and the Heisman and all those different things. You're in a new situation. I'm on the other side of the country now. Young player, lot of expectations, lot of money, it was just a lot going on. It's a new experience and you have to go through a lot of trials and tribulations as a player to be able to grow and learn from them and try to become better. I feel like I've been able to do that."
Q: Did you ever wonder at any point if you'd ever be healthy enough to be the player you wanted to be?
Woodson: "It was a tough period. The broken bones, turf toe and those things. It was hard for a minute. It was hard to get over some of those things, but it happened. My last year here, I was hurt. I moved on to Green Bay after that and things just kind of took off again."
Q: The ‘O' that came one day and picked up steam, when you make those big plays, describe that feeling that the Raider Nation gives you.
Woodson: "It's a pride thing, man. These are great fans. They love their team. They really love their team. They're just itching for the team to be back relevant again and get back into the playoffs. They want something to identify with their players. That's where the ‘O' came from, just to have something that they can identify with, something that they can be prideful about. It's great for me to come out before the game and throw the ‘O' up, or after a big play. To see basically the whole crowd do it, there is no feeling like that. To go out there and try something and see if it works, see if it catches on, and it did. I think the fans got a kick out of it, and I did as well."
Q: Going off of that, would you be sad if this was the last game in Oakland on Thursday?
Woodson: "For me, it's going to be sad just for myself. It will be sad for the fans. They love this team. They love the Raiders. They identify with the Oakland Raiders. It's happened to them before. It would be tough to actually have that happen a second time around. Yeah, definitely."