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Older, wiser Woodson reflects on troubled Raiders days

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Posted Feb. 01, 2011 @ 10:10 a.m. ET
By Eric Edholm

LAS COLINAS, Texas — It's hard to believe that Charles Woodson once was thought to be a problem child.

It's even harder to believe that he once was unwanted as a free agent.

After eight relatively non-descript seasons in Oakland, Woodson stared into the void that was the open market. Nothing stared back. Only the Packers came calling, and it was his only real option.

"I never intended on leaving Oakland," Woodson said. "My time ran out there. It was time to go. Green Bay, I (landed) there because no one else wanted to take a shot on Charles Woodson, so that is where I had to play football and it worked out.

"I had a bad rap. I was a little bit of a wild child. I enjoyed myself as a young man. I guess (the Raiders) were tired of it. There was talk about my game declining and not being the player that I was and that I had lost a step — all of that came into play when it came to finding another team."

Since then, Woodson, now 34, has redefined his career. He has 30 interceptions in five seasons with the Packers (after only 17 with the Raiders) and was the 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. And call him what you want, but Woodson stands as the godfather of an extremely talented Packers secondary.

He also has embraced a new role — team spokesman.

"The guys said, 'Charles, you'll do it.' That was the end of it," Woodson said. "I think the guys have a lot of respect for me, a lot of respect for my career, the way I play the game. That's kind of how it is. You kind of lead by example, but at times you're needed to speak. It's something I am fine with, I am comfortable doing it, and it has worked so far. Hopefully, one more time."

Woodson made headlines for calling out President Obama (sort of), a Bears fan, who predicted a Chicago victory in the NFC title game. Woodson now famously said that if Obama wouldn't come to Dallas to watch the Packers in the Super Bowl, they'd be happy to come visit him at the White House after they win it all.

The line was clever and off the cuff. But Woodson said he rarely comes too prepared when it comes to speaking engagements with his team.

"I go through a few different things in my mind to try to prepare myself. As I stated a couple of days ago, you don't want to just get up there and ramble. I try to put some thoughts together and once I get in front of the team, hopefully it comes off clearly."

Woodson, extremely well dressed and well spoken at the Packers' Monday media session at the Omni Mandalay Hotel, spoke about a time many now have forgotten: those self-titled "wild child" days of old.

"Kids. I'm older now," he said when asked about the difference between the Raiders' Woodson and the Packers' Woodson. "I am closer to the end than I am to the beginning. Going once and then not going until nine years later, you understand how hard it is to get here and that there is no guarantee that you'll ever get back. I'm taking in every moment of it. I'm enjoying it this time around, and I'm definitely looking forward to a different outcome."

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