Milwaukee Talks: Packers CB Charles Woodson
OMC: What does that mean, you made a merlot? You weren't, like, actually stomping on the grapes, were you?
CW: Well, I could have. The day I went up there, I had an all-white suit on. So it wouldn't have looked good. But what the wineries do is they take whatever they need for their production, and then a lot of times they'll sell off what they don't use. So you can buy those grapes.
So I bought those grapes, and then at that time, we were able to use Mondavi's facilities because my friend worked there, and they did all the crushing and distilling and fermentation, all that. And then you have to buy your barrels and all that stuff. So we did all that and had a merlot that I was going to label and give to people. Christmastime or whatever. But I ended up holding onto it, and I've got a wine storage out there where I keep wine I buy from different wineries out there.
Fast forward to 2004, and after spending more time up there, me and my partner decided to make our own wine. We ended up buying more grapes, which is what I'm pouring now -- an '05 Cabernet. And then from then on, I leased more acres out there. Now I have a 2006 and a 2007, which of course those won't be out until next year and the following year.
OMC: So, since I'm not a wine connoisseur, how long is the lag time for the wine to age?
CW: My '05 was in the barrels for 18 months. So it takes awhile. Some people, after a year, they bottle it and sell it to whoever they sell it to. But mine will be in the barrels for anywhere between 18 and 24 months.
OMC: And what do you call your wine?
CW: It's called Twenty Four, by Charles Woodson -- 24 being my number in Oakland, which is when I got interested in wine. And the 24 is spelled out and we put my name on the label so we didn't run into any issues with the television show "24."
OMC: That'd be an interesting wine if they based one on the TV show. The bottle would explode or something. How many of your teammates have tried your wine?
CW: Nobody here has tried it yet. Everything is in Napa Valley now, so whenever I travel places, I have to have it shipped. Then I do the tasting there or whatever.
OMC: So how often are you in Napa?
CW: I've only been there once this year, but I'm usually there two or three times during the off-season.
OMC: So I have to ask -- do you take pride in being this team's resident renaissance man? From elevating the level of the way your teammates dress up on game days to the scholarship endowments to the wine business, you sure seem to bring a different type of class to the locker room.
CW: What I take pride in is in always being myself. Whether I'm in Oakland or Atlanta or Houston or Green Bay or Michigan -- wherever I'm at, I'm always going to be myself. And I feel like I'm a very positive person, I feel like I'm a person that people want to be around.
Everybody has their perceptions of a person until you get to know them. Anybody who I allow to get to know me, knows that. I'm just going to be myself at all costs. One thing I understand about this game, I've been blessed to make it this far. A lot of people don't. And a lot of people who do, as soon as their careers are over, their life is in a frenzy. They don't have anywhere to go, they don't have anything to do, they spent all their career focusing only on football and don't know how to do anything else. When I came into the league, I didn't know what direction I was going to go in, but I knew that I wasn't going to let that be the case.
OMC: The first two years in Green Bay, you didn't come to a single OTA practice. What changed? Is this an indicator of how you feel about this place, that you're actually here?
CW: You know, things evolve. They either evolve for the better or they evolve for the worse. And my time here has been good. Of course, I've said all along that the transition was a little rocky at first. Just because I'm coming from a totally different place. It was a little rough, but once I got to know people and people got to know me. Either you like me or you don't like me, but I'm going to be myself. So once that part of it got out of the way and people started to watch me play football, a few people know what I do business-wise, things started to smooth out a little bit.
OMC: What made it so rough to begin with?
CW: I probably made it rough -- just myself.
OMC: Why? You wanted to do your own thing?
CW: I'm ALWAYS going to do my own thing. And I'm just one of those people who, I'm not going to just do something. I need to know why I'm being told to do something. I am one of those people. That's the truth.
And if I don't think it's right, I'm definitely not going to do it. So it doesn't matter if you're the coach or whatever, if that's not what I feel ... especially if I know it ain't right, then of course we're going to have problems. When I first got here, those instances came up. Just practice and how I feel something should work and how it shouldn't work. I'm not a very vocal person, but if I don't like something and I'm a part of it, I have to say something.
OMC: And now, that's changed?
CW: It's just changed because now people know me and they know what to expect -- and I know what to expect from them.
OMC: So have you found an unlikely home here? I know when you were on the free-agent market and the Packers were the only team really interested in you, you did not want to come here.
CW: Initially, I couldn't believe I was here. I signed the contract, and that part of it was done, the money part of it was done, but then I actually got here and I was like, 'How the hell did I end up in Green Bay?' (laughs) But it's been a blessing. The last place I ever thought I'd be, the last place I told people I'd ever play. I'm here. And it's probably been probably the best thing that's happened to me since I've been in the league. I guess it's true -- the Lord works in mysterious ways. I'm here, and it's all good.
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Wood is a classy guy. We are lucky to have he and Al, especially with how they are mentoring the next set of playmakers, Tramon Williams and Patrick Lee. I say they each have AT LEAST 3 years left in them though.
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