Friday evening I took my Charles Woodson jersey out of the closet and put it on….somehow it just felt right to wear it. It’s turning out to be a tough offseason for Packer fans who can’t appreciate the cold hard business reality of the NFL. Two of the most popular Packers in recent years have already left the team and another popular player is about to leave for the greener pastures of free agency. None of these departures are completely unexpected, but each brings its own sad reminder that the state of the NFL is not one for sentiment.
On Friday the Packers said good bye to Charles Woodson. It’s something that we all knew was coming in some form and it’s something that we have been talking around for some time. No matter what though, it’s tough to say good bye to a special player that has built the strongest part of his career in Green Bay. In the end Woodson said it best in the tweet that started this all…."We had a good run."
It was a good run, and a run no Packer fan will soon forget. We could talk about stats, awards, and his Super Bowl ring, but you are going to hear about that a lot over the next few days and talking about these things alone misses something. The real beauty of Woodson’s time here in Green Bay is just how unexpected his run turned out to be. In 2006 the Packers had just finished one of the worst seasons in recent history. Brett Favre was doing his retirement dance, Mike Sherman was fired with an unknown, untried McCarthy taking over, Aaron Rodgers looked like a lost cause, and Ted Thompson coming across like a penny pinching hack. Similarly, Charles Woodson looked like a washed up talent with an underwhelming career. Worse, he looked to be a locker room cancer. On paper this did not look like a good relationship.
Yet somehow it did happen. Green Bay may have been the last place Woodson wanted to be, but that is where he ended up. He buckled down, worked on his game, and started to live up to the potential that everyone knew he had. Woodson took his time in Green Bay and built a Hall of Fame career out of it. More than that though, he became the soul of a championship club and a player that Packer Nation would forever love. This is something that no one expected out of Woodson when he signed with Green Bay and the surprise of it all make it makes it even sweeter.
Woodson will now move on to another contender looking for leadership and secondary help. The Packers will move on with one of the young promising defenders to fill Woodson’s place, probably Jerron McMillian. It’s the way of life in the NFL: practicality over sentiment. We fans are left to enjoy the memories of a good run. It was a run that Packers fans have not seen out of a free agent since Reggie White. It’s a run that I will savor over this coming weekend by putting on my Woodson jersey, watching his highlights with the Packers, and letting sentiment reign as I reminisce.