What a game and what a week we are in for. Like many of you I have just not been productive today in savoring this huge win for our franchise....it's simply been amazing.
As I go over some of the countless videos, sound bites, highlights, articles, and comments about the game one particular story keeps coming back to me. It's the leadership role Charles Woodson seems to have grown into over this past season and what that has meant to the Packers this year.
I'm sure you've read the story by now. A recently injured Woodson received confirmation that he couldn't go back in and broke down into tears. He wanted to address the team and couldn't give a whole speech, instead telling the team to just win and convey how much winning this meant to him. Hearing this story over and over again is not something I'm getting tired of...no it just strikes me deeper and deeper each time....because for all the talk of Aaron Rodgers being the heir to Brett Favre we Packer fans are sometimes guilty of forgetting that in 15ish years we have never really found the heir to Reggie White.
At least until now....
There are two images that always seem to come out of Super Bowl XXXI: Favre running with his helmet in the air and Reggie without his pads wearing the shirt and hat and running with the trophy. White was such a dynamic player that we sometimes forget how much of a force he was off the field and in the locker room. He is a personality that we never really found a way to replace once he was gone. Think about it for a moment...who was the leader of the team...the team's soul....from 98 till 06? Who was that guy that people followed respected and just rallied behind? Favre and......?
Brett never had someone on the other side of the ball that was the same sort of emotional leader...the type of player who had the personality and the play to capture the team's imagination and force them to aspire to greatness. It's tough to win a Super Bowl, or be a deep playoff contender, without that kind of leadership on both sides of the ball. This was the type of player that we just never could find after Reggie left. The weirdest thing though....we never talked about it either.
That is until we saw the rise of Charles Woodson. Now I'm not talking about the realization that Charles Woodson was pretty good the first couple years he was here. I'm talking about the true rise of Charles Woodson, where he became a complete defensive force who changed the coarse of a game...you know starting last year with his DPOY. This year he took the next step and not only led the team on the field with his game, but took over a large presence in the locker room. He was giving speeches at the half, he was elected playoff captain and fired up the team. He was the one who gave the impassioned talk after the Chicago game about being of one heart and to plan to visit the president. It was Woodson and Rodgers who stepped up to represent the players on IR. It was Woodson who needed only a sentence and his presence to rally the troops and encourage them to close out the game.
Charles Woodson has elevated his game this year...and now in a way that we see all the time. He has became the leader the Packers have sorely needed, and the type of player who not only wills a team to victory through his play, but through his actual will....motivating the players around him to lift their game to attain the championship we have been hungering for as owners and fans alike.