This is the first time since 1997 that Charles Woodson is not a part of an NFL team. The former Michigan standout hung ’em up at the end of last winter, capping off a 18-year career (11 with GB, 7 with OAK) where he was a 9-time Pro Bowler and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers in 2010.
Like a number of football players, Woodson is fully aware of the difficulties and risks of playing the sport when it comes to injuries. He himself faced a number of different injuries throughout his career in the secondary. And also like many current and former players, Woodson has suffered at least one concussion during his playing time, without question the biggest concern in the sport today.
With the sport being so violent, seemingly more so than it has ever been before, and with the technology improving to detect concussion-like symptoms in athletes, more and more players, former and current, are becoming more open of their awareness and concern of playing the sport. For Woodson, now an ESPN NFL analyst, the married father of two shifts his attention to educating the fans as well as his children. His two sons currently play flag football, but there will come a day when he has to make a decision on whether to allow them. As of now, he’s unsure on what to do.
“I don’t have any issue with it because it’s flag football,” Woodson told the Mercury News recently. “But I sit back and watch the game, and it’s a pretty violent game. When you talk about concussions and all those things, that’s going to come into play. What do I say when they come to me and say, ‘I want to put on a helmet and hit?’ Right now I’m in limbo. But it’s something I’m going to have to give some thought.”
Being a role model for young athletes, fans of the sport, and even his peers, often what someone of Woodson’s caliber believes in will surely be heard and felt. It truly speaks to how growing of a concern CTE is in football and it becomes a constant tug-of-war between passion and health.
Woodson over his 18 NFL seasons picked off opposing quarterbacks 65 times for more than 960 yards of return and 11 touchdowns, also breaking up 155 passes. The ball-magnet defensive back was also a very solid tackler in his time, piling up 983 total tackles and 20.0 sacks. And of his 18 professional seasons, he played in 13 or more games in a single season 15 different times.