During his memorable time in Green Bay, Charles Woodson went to four Pro Bowls, twice led the NFL in interceptions, was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and helped lead the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title. But, after switching positions and struggling with injuries, the aging defensive back was released in 2013 by the team that had taken a chance on him seven years earlier.
Following three seasons back in Oakland with the Raiders, Woodson retired in 2015 and has already settled in as a comparatively excellent television personality on ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown," where his measured, insightful perspective is refreshing from a former player.
But more than three seasons after Green Bay cut him and a year after hanging up his cleats, could a 40-year-old Woodson, one of the most physically gifted and cerebrally intuitive defensive playmakers in the history of football, still help what is a devastatingly depleted Packers secondary?
Green Bay is currently without its top three cornerbacks – Sam Shields is on injured reserve because of a concussion, Damarious Randall is out several weeks after having groin surgery and Quinten Rollins is also battling a groin injury; undrafted rookie Josh Hawkins, undrafted second-year man LaDarius Gunter and third-year former sixth-round pick Demitri Goodson, who recently came off the suspended list, are the healthy cover guys.
So Woodson, who was in Milwaukee on Tuesday for the announcement that he’d been selected for induction into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame’s 66th anniversary class, was jokingly asked if he thought he could step in and shore up the Packers’ battered defensive backfield.
"I think I could still squeeze out at least one 4.5 (40-yard dash)," Woodson said with a laugh, seeming only slightly to hedge. "You give me one play out there, I could make it happen."
Well, with a showdown in Atlanta on Sunday against a Falcons team that has game-breaking pass-catcher Julio Jones, the NFL’s leader in receiving yards, Green Bay may just need that one play.
What do you think? Could Charles Woodson help the Packers' secondary right now?
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.