I get easily confused as I move up in years and it seems that I am not the only one who is confused as to if it is good or bad.
Yesterday the Green Bay Packers released Charles Woodson. By many accounts he was the heart and soul of the defense – a leader in the locker room and on the field.
He was also an aging veteran who had been injured most of last season and was poised to be a big hit against the salary cap.
During his departure, younger and faster players showed they could handle his job, so he became expendable. He became a statistic of the business side of the NFL.
So that leads us to the big question: Is the release of Woodson good or bad? I read many posts that criticized the release. One fan wrote, “ I can’t really believe they did this … they have made some dumb moves but this one tops the rest.” Many other fans questioned the loss of his leadership.
While other fans realized that his salary cap hit, his age and declining speed were all factors in his release , they wished him well and put their faith in the brain trust at 1265 Lombardi Avenue to do what is best for the team.
So is it good or bad? After separating the emotional aspects of losing another well-liked player who represented the team with class and dignity, I think the move was done at the right time and with the best interests of the team and more importantly for the right reasons.
Take a step back and look at the big picture.
Woodson is an aging veteran who was moved from his original position to cover his deficiencies in covering younger and faster players.
While recovering from his second broken collarbone, younger players stepped up and in his absence they were able to raise and maintain a level of play that improved the defense. Now I am not saying that Woodson was the cause of the defense’s poor play over the past few years, what I am pointing out is that the younger players showed that they were ready to fill the void in his absence. Once they proved that, his ticket out of Green Bay was stamped.
There is also the concept that the needs of the team are more important than the desire to keep a player because of the emotional attachment (see Donald Driver). Everyone is familiar with the necessity to sign Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and BJ Raji to new contracts. These players are the current cornerstones of the team and Thompson and Mark Murphy have to address these needs to sustain the team’s level of play. Woodson’s contract was something that could have hindered future extensions.
Finally, there is the question of the loss of his leadership on and off the field. Yes it will be missed. But in the past, Reggie White, LeRoy Butler, Brett Favre and many other leaders have moved on and the team found their replacements. His loss is not going to create a leadership vacuum. It will, if anything, force younger players who have watched him lead, step and and be that leader. To quote Disney’s “The Lion King” (NFL version), it is the circle of life.
In the end, the release of Woodson was a well-calculated decision based on the needs of the team in conjunction with the fact that younger players had developed enough to fill his spot admirably, thus there would be no dropoff in play in the secondary. The release was best for the team and that is what we, as fans, need to focus upon.
Players come and players go. In time, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and other fan favorites will leave the team, just as Woodson has. The Packers will survive. There will be bumps and bruises, and learning curves for new players and new team leaders, but the Green and Gold is bigger than any one player.
So, Mr. Woodson, thank you for your dedicated play, your passion and leadership. Thank you for leading this team to a Super Bowl victory. We all look forward to the day when you enter the Packers Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame (as a Packer). Though you did not want to be here at first, you embraced us and we embraced you. Change may hurt, but I believe that in this case, the change is good for all those involved.
New opportunities will arise for everyone involved and your time here will be treasured. You wore the Green and Gold with pride and for that we are forever grateful.