I hate to say it, but this is nothing new – this type of treatment of older players has been going on since the inception of the league and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
Just a couple of days ago, I posted a piece asking whether it was time that Woodson considered retirement. I’m still of that ilk. He’s had an incredible career – a Hall of Fame-caliber career – and he’s on the downside of it. Sir Charles has to realize that. Will one more year really enhance what he’s already accomplished over the past 15 years? He’s been the league’s defensive player of the year, he’s a Super Bowl champion, he’s played in 206 career games, he’s made 589 tackles, has had 130 assists, 119 passes defensed, and most importantly he’s had 55 interceptions that have been returned 896 yards – 11 of which have been returned to the house for touchdowns. His longest return was 62 yards.
Here’s what he had to say on NFL AM: “I’m 36, so of course I’m considered ancient in the game right now, and teams are looking for younger players and trying to make their rosters younger. If you’re an older guy they kind of push you to the side, and they’ll maybe look at you much later on down the road, when I guess they figure they can get you much cheaper.”
He hit the nail on the head with that quote.
Will another year, maybe two really cement his place in NFL history? Not unless he finds a team where he’s going to be the guy who played like he did with the Packers in 2009-10 – and we all know that’s just not going to happen.
We’ve all seen our favorite players slink off into the twilight of their careers riding the bench and watching the younger guys take their place. It happens. That’s what’s happening here. Maybe Sir Charles and Brian Urlacher should compare notes. They may find some similarities in their situations.
What will occur is that Woodson will ride the couch until late August when a team’s defensive backfield is depleted and they are desperate to find a seasoned veteran they can bring in to fill out the roster and fill in the gaps while their players heal. Woodson is the poster child for that situation. It’s unfortunate, but it is the inevitable.
He’s had his day in the sun. It’s time for him to move over and to move on with life outside of football. Woodson is an incredibly bright individual who will have many, many opportunities beyond the field. If it doesn’t happen this year, then next year.
In my mind, it should be sooner than later. But I’m not Charles Woodson. That decision will ultimately be his.
In the meantime, we wish him the best. He’s too classy of a guy to be used within the system and then thrown onto the scrap heap of former players.