Finally for UM Heisman winner

Charles Woodson



Woodson gets elusive Super Bowl title

ARLINGTON, Tx. – Every NFL player that laces up his cleats dreams and hopes to stand in the middle of a field with confetti glorious fluttering from the sky holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy tightly in his hands.

That was the exact picture of former University of Michigan Heisman Trophy winner, Charles Woodson, did after Super Bowl XLV concluded. Surrounded by family and friends, with his left arm in a sling, his teammates handed him the valued trophy and he grasped it like it was the prize possession it is.

Clearly in pain, Woodson sucked it up and posed with the trophy in one hand and the other in a sling.

Surely that was not the picture Woodson had envisioned the night before the “Big Game” when he projected in his mind how his second Super Bowl appearance would play out. His first experience came in Super Bowl XXXVIII where the Oakland Raiders lost to Tampa Bay.

With the first half of Super Bowl XLV winding down, Woodson stretched out to defend a long pass; unfortunately he landed awkward on his shoulder and broke his left collar bone.

“I’ve broken my leg before and I knew something was not right,” he said. “I tried to stay out on the field, but my coaches and trainers stopped me. When we went in at halftime and I saw the x-rays and knew what the deal was. I talked to the guys before we went back on the field. I just encouraged them to keep on playing, but they all know how much this game meant to me.”

Woodson will always be remembered for his years at Michigan where he led the Wolverines to their last national title and a Rose Bowl victory. Becoming the first and only player in the history of NCAA Division I-A football to win the Heisman Trophy as a primarily defensive player.

“I’ve been fortunate to win a title in college, but that professional one has been elusive,” he said. “When I got to the Super Bowl with the Raiders, I dreamed that I would get back there again sooner, but it took a long time. That is why this is so special.

“I was angry and frustrated at first that I could not go out on that field in the second half and help my team win this game, but it is all good. We are Super Bowl champions. There were on two teams left standing and we are the last team. There will not be any more games next week; in two weeks . . . this is it. It has been an unbelievable journey. We get to take the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay.”

Woodson noted that all the injuries the Packers endured was par for the course. “All season long we have had to fight through a lot of things,” he exclaimed, “and today was no different. (Donald) Driver goes down. I go down. Just like all season, somebody stepped in and they stepped up. That’s what this Green Bay Packer team is all about. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Woodson just completed his 14th season in the NFL, and by all accounts he is recognized as an acknowledged leader of the Packers on and off the field.

The Raiders selected him with the fourth pick on the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He immediately established himself as one of the best cornerbacks winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and earning All-Pro recognition three consecutive times (1999-2001).

Woodson signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and immediately changed the defensive culture of the franchise. In four seasons with the Packers he has produced 28 interceptions, eight of which he returned for touchdowns. In 2009 he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“That confetti shower is something I’ve dreamed of all my life,” he joyfully interjected. “What happened here today is a direct result of how we practice, study film and execute our game plans.”

Said Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers: “Charles is the heart and soul of this team. He’s a person we all look up to.”

Leland Stein can be reached at

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