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Charles Woodson says it was the right decision to end his career with the Raiders

“I ended up where I should have been and I’m really happy about that,” the NFL legend tells us in an exclusive interview on the eve of the HOF announcement

Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders, NFL week 5
Charles Woodson picks off Peyton Manning
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Charles Woodson nearly ended his career with the Denver Broncos.

Allow that to sink in.

“I’m really glad I didn’t do that,” Woodson said in a phone interview with Silver and Black Pride on Friday.

“I don’t think the Raider Nation would ever have forgiven me if I came into the Oakland Coliseum wearing that Broncos’ uniform ... I ended up where I should have been and I’m really happy about that.”

Woodson ended his 18-season NFL career where he should have been and Saturday, he very likely will go where he’s been destined to be — the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Woodson is expected to be elected into the Canton, Ohio, museum when the vote is announced Saturday evening.

Woodson spent most of his career with the Oakland Raiders — who drafted him with the No. 4 overall pick in 1998 — and he went on to become the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Woodson left for the Green Bay Packers in 2006 where he won an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award and a Super Bowl ring.

He then came back to the Raiders in 2013 where he spent the final three seasons of his career. As he reflects with the HOF looming, Woodson feels like the return to the Raiders was one of the best decisions he ever made.

Woodson visited Denver in 2013 and seriously considered joining Peyton Manning (his draft classmate and his expected HOF classmate, as well) there. Yet, it didn’t work out and the Raiders made a call to Woodson.

Dolphins v Raiders X Woodson
Raider Nation loves C-Wood

When Woodson visited the Raiders in the spring of 2013, several fans greeted him at the team facility and stayed there until he signed back with the team.

“I’ll never forget that,” Woodson said. “They were not going to let me leave that building until I signed back.

“Those three seasons really closed out my career the right way. If I didn’t go back. I think there would be a love-hate relationship for the fans. But it was the right decision and I’ll always be part of the Raider Nation.”

While Woodson, 44, will always be a Raider, he will likely forever be a Hall of Famer starting on Saturday.

Hall of Famers are a different breed. Not only are they the best players, but usually, they are also stars in the locker room, film room, media room and away from the facility. They are a cut above the rest. Woodson fits in into that mold perfectly.

“Most of the Hall of Famers I’ve been around all have a quality that is all about confidence,” Woodson said.

“They have confidence in themselves whatever the task is. Whatever the goal is, these guys are willing to do the dirty work to get it done, so to speak. I feel like that’s the quality Hall of Famers have.”

Woodson said his mindset of becoming a great success was forged when he was in kindergarten in his hometown of Fremont, Ohio. His teacher told the class one day that they were all special people and they should always live that way.

“That really did it for me,” Woodson said. “I think about that day a lot.”

As he likely will celebrate his election into the Hall of Fame, Woodson will participate in the 7th Annual Culinary Kickoff on Saturday ahead of Super Bowl LV. The social-fundraising culinary event benefits the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), The Ryan Nece Foundation and All Stars Helping Kids. This year in Tampa, guests are invited to join the hosts and cook along in the live broadcast and virtual benefit while raising money for these charities helping combat food insecurity nationwide for children.

Woodson, who operates his Intercept Wine and his new bourbon brand Woodson Whiskey, will participate in the virtual event that is hosted by Sage Steele and Liam Mayclem. Marshall Faulk, Ronnie Lott and Ryan Nece are also going to be showing off their cooking skills with celebrity chefs Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina and Adam Sobel.

Surely, all of the Raider Nation will be raising a glass to their newest Hall of Famer on Saturday night.