VANCOUVER, B.C. – NFL Hall of Fame Cornerback Rod Woodson was in Vancouver recently for the NFL Experience Tour. Woodson participated in drills with kids and talked about his career in the NFL. Woodson, also signed autographs and answered a questions from all the fans in attendance. The NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions returned for a touchdown, had time for an interview on a wide range of subjects.
What emotions were you feeling when you were inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio?
Rod Woodson: It’s a huge honour. It’s only two-hundred and some odd individuals that are in the Hall of Fame and to be from Fort Wayne, Indiana… a little country boy from Indiana to make the Hall of Fame, I thought it was tremendous.
When you started your career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, did you one day think you would enter the NFL Hall of Fame?
Rod Woodson: Oh no, I was just happy to be in the NFL. I thought I was going to play about 8 years, and retire. I played 17 and became a Hall of Famer. I didn’t have any expectations coming into the league. I just knew I wanted to work hard and represent my last name well for my father and with that just play hard.
What are your fondest memories from your career?
Rod Woodson: Going to the Super Bowls, and winning the one. Even thought I went to the one with Pittsburgh, and the one with Oakland, we lost those games. Going to Baltimore and winning that one and being the best at what you do for one year there is nothing like that.
Are there any specific plays or highlights during your career that sticks out in your mind?
Rod Woodson: That’s a hard one because I had a lot of them. Probably my best hit ever was against Warren Moon. I got to sack him and it was legal then when you could hit the quarterback hard and drive him to the ground so that was a pretty good hit.
You had 71 interceptions during your career, is there a certain Quarterback you felt you had a really good read on during games?
Rod Woodson: No… you do all your film study throughout the week and that tells you were they’re going to go. Then you just try and fly as fast as you can to the football. If you can catch the ones that come to you normally you can lead the league. Fortunately for me I caught 71 of them.
What kind of injuries did you suffer and play through during your 17 seasons in the NFL?
Rod Woodson: I had 5 knee surgeries, I’ve had a dislocated right shoulder, a dislocated left shoulder. A broken finger and I tore my bicep in my right arm. Other than that I’m healthy.
Who is the toughest Wide-Receiver you had to face?
Rod Woodson: I think the easy answer is Jerry Rice but that wouldn’t be too fair because I only played against Jerry twice. Webster Slaughter to me was the guy that gave me a lot of issues coming in because he created a lot of separation because he was so quick, so Webster gave me a lot of issues.
What about Quarterback wise?
Rod Woodson: I played against Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, John Elway, and Warren Moon. I’ve played against a lot of great quarterbacks and they were all very good in their own right.
What coach did you have the best rapport and relationship with?
Rod Woodson: That’s kind of hard because I was blessed to have a lot of great coaches in Pittsburgh and when I first got there Chuck Noll was there, and Tony Dungy was my defensive coordinator. Tony left and a guy named Rod Rust, which a lot of people don’t know who he is, but he was a defensive guru. Those guys left and then that’s when Bill Cowher, Dick LeBeau, and Dom Capers came in. In 10 years I had about five or six really good coaches.
What are your thoughts on the current NFL season?
Rod Woodson: In the AFC you don’t know who’s going to be the best team right now. It’s kind of a down year in the AFC. In the NFC you have the Falcons, and I don’t know if a lot of people are giving them a lot of credit because of what Atlanta’s done in the postseason. I think the best team right now in the league is the New York Giants. I think they play the best across the board, offense, defense, and special teams and they’re coached well.
What about the New England Patriots?
Rod Woodson: Well they can score. As long as you have Tom Brady you’re in the game. They don’t have the best defense in the league and that’s probably why they went out and got (Akib) Talib. As long as you have a guy like Tom Brady you have an opportunity to win football games.
What do you think about the Patriots acquisition of Akib Talib? He’s got a lot of issues off the field but will he help the Patriots secondary?
Rod Woodson: You’ve got to wait and see. I think Bill Belichick is a no-nonsense approach coach and I think they have some veteran leadership in the locker room so hopefully they can get him headed in the right direction.
Do you think Wes Welker will re-sign and return to the Patriots next season?
Rod Woodson: He’s played a long time. I think he’s going to take it one year at a time and it’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen next year.
Have you watched the ESPN 30 for 30 NFL documentary Broke?
Rod Woodson: I’ve heard about it and I have not seen it yet. The unfortunate thing is you sign in the league and you don’t get a lot of guidance on where to go and if you’re not smart with your money you can lose it. I think guys don’t really think about forty or fifty years down the road. They think about the immediate future and human beings are living longer. When you get done playing if you’ve played 10 years you’re going to be 30-32, hopefully you’ll have another thirty or forty something years to live your life.
What did you do during your career to sustain your cash flow after your retirement?
Rod Woodson: I’m just a country boy from Indiana. I prefer to live on a farm and be with my kids everyday than spend money everyday.
You were a Defensive-Backs Coach with the Oakland Raiders last season and you aren’t with the team this season… what happened?
Rod Woodson: We lost… and they cleaned house. Coaching was a great experience, hopefully one day I can get another opportunity but we’ll wait and see.
What do you do in your free time?
Rod Woodson: Eat ice cream, and be with my kids.
Thank You very much, it was nice to meet you.
Rod Woodson: Alright, take care.