Charles Woodson

Charles Cameron Woodson (born October 7, 1976) is a former American football player. He played college football for Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to a share of the national championship in 1997. Woodson, a "two-way player" who played both offense and defense, won the Heisman Trophy in the same year.[1] To date, he is the only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman, and he is the most recent player to win the Heisman who was not either a running back or quarterback. Woodson went on to accomplish a storied career professionally with one of the most decorated professional football resumes of all time, considered by many of his peers to be one of the greatest defensive players to have ever played.

Woodson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders fourth overall in the 1998 NFL Draft. In his first season with Oakland, Woodson was selected as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro recognition three consecutive times (1999–2001). In a 2002 AFC playoff match against the New England Patriots, Woodson seemed to have clinched the game by forcing a fumble by sacking quarterback (and former Michigan teammate) Tom Brady, but the ruling was overturned. Woodson later battled several nagging injuries in consecutive seasons in Oakland, leading to his departure after the 2005 NFL season via free agency.[2]

On April 26, 2006, Woodson signed a seven-year, $52 million contract with the Green Bay Packers. He would later win Super Bowl XLV with the team over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his first season in Green Bay, Woodson was the team's punt returner and led the National Football Conference with eight interceptions, surpassing his previous career high of five, in his rookie year.[3] In his second season in Green Bay, the injury problems returned and Woodson was forced to sit out two games. He was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the 2009 NFL season.[4] He returned to the Raiders in 2013, playing three more seasons and once more being voted to the Pro Bowl. Woodson is one of the few players in NFL history to play in a Pro Bowl in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s). He is currently tied for fifth on the all time interceptions list with 65,[5] and is tied with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for most career defensive touchdowns with 13.[6] He also is second all time in interceptions returned for touchdowns, with 11.[7] After he retired in 2015, he signed with ESPN in 2016.

Charles Woodson
refer to caption
Woodson with the Oakland Raiders in 2014
No. 24, 21
Personal information
Born:October 7, 1976 (age 42)
Fremont, Ohio
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High school:Ross (Fremont, Ohio)
NFL Draft:1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Total tackles:1,105
Forced fumbles:33
Defensive touchdowns:13
Passes defended:155
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Woodson was born in Fremont, Ohio. As a senior at Ross High School, Woodson was named Ohio's "Mr. Football."[8][9] He finished his high school football career with the school's records for rushing yards (3,861) and scoring (466 points).[10] In his senior season, he was a USA Today All-America selection and Parade High School All-American and recorded 2,028 yards and 230 points.[11] All colleges recruited Woodson as a running back, while Michigan recruited him as a defensive back. In addition to playing football, Woodson also played basketball (point guard) and competed in track & field (relay sprinter and long jumper).[2][12]

College career

Woodson attended the University of Michigan, where he played for coach Lloyd Carr's Michigan Wolverines football team from 1995 to 1997.[13] He became the starter after the second game of his freshman season and played in 34 straight games. In addition to playing cornerback, he returned punts and occasionally played as a wide receiver.

Freshman season

In 1995, Woodson was selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team by conference coaches, and second-team All-Big Ten by the media. He led the team with five interceptions and eight takeaways.[14]

Sophomore season

In 1996, Woodson set a Wolverine record for pass breakups with 15. For his efforts, he was named the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year and an AP First Team All-American. He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award and named to All-Big Ten First Team by conference coaches and the media.[14]

Junior season

In his junior season in 1997, Woodson became the third Michigan player to win the Heisman Trophy, joining Tom Harmon (1940) and Desmond Howard (1991).[15] Woodson received 282 more voting points than runner-up Peyton Manning of Tennessee.[1] He was the first and is still the only primarily defensive player to win the prestigious award.[2] Woodson is the last player to win the Heisman Trophy that is not a running back or quarterback. Woodson led the Michigan Wolverines to an undefeated season and a share of the national championship in the same year. He won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the best defensive college player.[2] He was named to the All-Big Ten First-Team for the third year and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American. It was his second year winning the Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year award and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Woodson won the Jim Thorpe Award, an award which he was nominated for the previous year.[14]

Throughout college, Woodson was known for big plays in big moments of a game. As a freshman, he had two interceptions in a victory against the #2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.[16] During his Heisman-winning junior year, he made an acrobatic one-handed sideline interception against the Michigan State Spartans. Woodson had two interceptions in the game.[17] In a game against Ohio State, he returned a punt for a touchdown, made an interception in the end-zone, and had a 37-yard reception that led to Michigan's only offensive touchdown of the game. Woodson later stated that he tried to do Howard’s famous “pose” after scoring the touchdown, but failed after his teammates mobbed him in the end zone. The win over the buckeyes lifted Michigan to the Rose Bowl.[18] Michigan played the Washington State Cougars in the Rose Bowl. Woodson recorded another end-zone interception in the game, helping Michigan defeat the Cougars and win a share of the 1997 national championship.[19]

Woodson finished his college career with 18 interceptions and 30 passes defended.[2]

On December 12, 2014, the Big Ten Network included Woodson on "The Mount Rushmore of Michigan Football", as chosen by online fan voting. Woodson was joined in the honor by Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard and Anthony Carter. Of the honor, Woodson told BTN Live host Mike Hall, "It's really a big deal. To be one of the four people to be picked, that's a really big honor and I'm appreciative of it."

Professional career

Oakland Raiders

Woodson declared his eligibility for the NFL Draft following his junior season at Michigan and was selected with the fourth overall pick of the 1998 Draft by the Oakland Raiders.[20]

1998 season

After Woodson's first season in the NFL he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press.[21] He started all sixteen games, becoming the first rookie Raider since 1971 to do so. Woodson had 64 tackles that season.[22] He was also third in the league in interceptions (with five), returned one interception for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, and produced one forced fumble.[23][24] Woodson was named to his first Pro Bowl.

1999 season

In his second season in 1999, Woodson had his first career reception, a 19-yard catch, against the San Diego Chargers on November 14.[25] On November 28, against the Kansas City Chiefs, he had a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 37–34 loss.[26] He finished the season with 61 total tackles and a fumble recovery to go along with the pick-six.[27] Woodson was selected to his second Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro by the Associated Press.[2]

2000 season

In the 2000 NFL season, Woodson started all sixteen games of the season but suffered a turf toe injury, which prevented him from practicing.[28] He finished the year with a career-high 79 tackles, intercepted four passes, forced three fumbles, and recovered one fumble.[24][29] He was named to the All-Pro team by Sports Illustrated, and second-team honors from the Associated Press.[2]

2001 season

In 2001, his fourth year in the NFL, Woodson started sixteen games. This was the fourth consecutive year Woodson played in every game of the season. Woodson finished with two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and one blocked field goal.[24][30] Woodson returned punts for the first time in the NFL, returning four punts for 47 yards.[31] He was named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. He made All-Pro teams of The Sporting News and College and Pro Football Newsweekly and the All-AFC squad of Football News.[2]

2002 season

In 2002, Woodson suffered his first major injury since his freshman year at Michigan, suffering from a shoulder injury which caused him to be inactive for eight games. The shoulder injury came in the first half of the second game of the season. Despite the injury Woodson played the remainder of the game and was able to force a fumble.[28] After recovering from his shoulder injury, Woodson missed the last three games of the regular season, suffering from a cracked fibula bone in his right leg.[32] Woodson started every Raider game in the 2003 NFL Playoffs, finishing with a start in Super Bowl XXXVII. In the Super Bowl, Woodson showed signs of his injury, but still recorded an interception in a losing effort against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[33][34][35]

2003 season

After losing the Super Bowl in the year prior, the Raiders finished the 2003 NFL season with a dismal record of 4-12.[36] Woodson became unhappy with new head coach Bill Callahan, and criticized him during the season.[37] Woodson remained healthy for the entire season, starting in his first fifteen games. His contract was set to expire after the season. Woodson reached an agreement with Oakland and was labeled as a franchise player. The franchise tag set Woodson's contract with a minimum of the average salary for the top five cornerbacks in the NFL. Although being labeled as a franchise player, Woodson's contract was only for one year.[38]

2004 season

In the 2004 NFL season Woodson played the first 13 games of the season before suffering a leg injury which put him inactive in the last three weeks.[39] He finished the season with 73 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, one interception, nine passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.[40] After the season, Woodson again agreed to a one-year franchise tag deal.[2]

2005 season

In the 2005 NFL season, he started the first six games but broke his leg in the sixth week, which sidelined him for the rest of the year.[41][42] He finished the season with 30 total tackles, one interception, four passes defensed, and one forced fumble.[43]

Green Bay Packers

Nick Barnett (56) and Charles Woodson (21)
Woodson (21) and Nick Barnett

On April 26, 2006, Woodson and the Green Bay Packers reached a 7-year contract agreement that could be worth as much as $52.7 million with bonuses and incentives. He earned $10.5 million in the first year of the deal and $18 million over the first three years. He would have received a $3 million bonus if he was selected to the Pro Bowl in two of the first three years of the contract.[44] Woodson has stated that at the time of the contract he "did not want to come to Green Bay" due to a perception that the city is less than cosmopolitan, but was forced to do so because the Packers were the only team to offer him a contract. The cornerback has since lauded the Packers organization, Mike McCarthy, and the people of the State of Wisconsin for having faith in him, and has declared that "it was truly a blessing coming to Green Bay." [45]

2006 season

Free of any major injuries during the 2006 season, Woodson (tied with Walt Harris formerly of the San Francisco 49ers) led the National Football Conference with eight interceptions.[46] At the time, that was the most interceptions Woodson had recorded in a single season (until he had 9 in 2009). On October 22, he had a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins.[47] Overall, he was tied for third in that statistic in the entire NFL. He was used as his team's starting punt returner for the first time in his NFL career, returning 41 punts for 363 yards.[48]

2007 season

On October 14, 2007, Woodson picked up a Santana Moss fumble and returned it 57 yards for a go-ahead touchdown in a 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins.[49] He recorded an interception in the game, his first of the season. Woodson was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his performance versus the Redskins, which was the first time he had received that award.[50] On November 4, Woodson had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown with 59 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter to seal a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.[51][52] He finished the season with 63 total tackles, four interceptions, nine passes defensed, and two fumble recoveries.[53]

2008 season

Charles Woodson (cropped)
Woodson at an Atlanta Hawks game in May 2008

On September 15, 2008, Woodson recorded two interceptions in a 48-25 victory over the Detroit Lions.[54] He returned the second interception 41 yards for a touchdown.[55] Woodson was named NFL Defensive Player of the Month for September in both 2008.[56] On December 16, 2008, Woodson was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, his first with the Packers.[57] Overall, he finished the season with 62 total tackles, seven interceptions, two pick-sixes, 17 passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.[58]

2009 season

On November 15, 2009, Woodson recorded nine tackles (two for loss), a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception in a 17-7 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.[59] Woodson is the first player in NFL history to have a sack, two forced fumbles, and an interception in a game. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.

On November 26, 2009, Woodson had an impressive Thanksgiving game at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions. He recorded 7 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and recovery (same play), 4 passes defended and 2 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He covered star receiver Calvin Johnson and limited him to 2 catches for 10 yards. Although one of these was a touchdown, Green Bay won the game 34-12.[60] Woodson was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for this performance and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of November.

In January 2010, Woodson was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December 2009. He is the only defensive player to ever receive this award 3 times in the same season, and joins Barry Sanders and Mike Vanderjagt as the only NFL players to receive a Player of the Month award 3 times in a single season. For his effort during the 2009 season Woodson was selected as the AP Defensive Player of the Year.[61][62] Overall, he finished the season with 74 total tackles, nine interceptions, three pick-sixes, 18 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and two sacks.[63]

Woodson had more interceptions in his first four years with the Packers (28) than he did in his previous eight with the Raiders (17). He also has more touchdowns (8 vs 2) and sacks (6 vs 5.5) with the Packers than during his time in Oakland. He holds the Packers' franchise record for most defensive touchdowns (8 total, 7 interception returns and 1 fumble return).

2010 season: Super Bowl champion

During the 2010 season, Woodson recorded two interceptions and five forced fumbles for the Packers.[64][65] He was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl as a starting cornerback. It was his seventh career selection to the Pro Bowl. Woodson was named co-captain along with teammate A. J. Hawk for the Packers defensive unit through the post-season. He provided a huge performance, limiting Pro-Bowler DeSean Jackson to just two catches (for 47 yards), and recorded 5 tackles in the Packers win over the Philadelphia Eagles on January 9, 2011.[66] Woodson also played an important role in Dom Capers' defense in playoff victories against the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears and started against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.[67][68] With 1:54 before halftime of the Super Bowl, Woodson broke his collar bone while diving to successfully defend a pass intended for Mike Wallace. An emotional Woodson gave a speech to his teammates during halftime. Watching from the sidelines in the second half, Woodson cheered his team on to a 31-25 victory, his only championship title. Despite his Super Bowl injury, Woodson finished the game with three total tackles, of which two were solo..[69]

Barack Obama said if the Bears won the NFC Championship, that he would see them play in Super Bowl XLV, but he would not see Green Bay. Woodson sent Obama a jersey saying, "See you at the White House!" and had a pep talk in the locker room. He told the team if the President did not want to see the Packers play in the Super Bowl then they would go to the White House. The Packers won the Super Bowl. However, they could not visit the White House until August because of the terms in the NFL Lockout. When they visited the White House, Obama made reference to Woodson's pep rally and autographed jersey. Woodson responded by handing Barack Obama a certificate stating that Obama is a minority owner of the Packers. Obama also said, "I have learned something that many quarterbacks have learned. Don't mess with Charles Woodson."

Engraved inside the 2010 Super Bowl Ring is the numeral “1” along with the words “Mind, Goal, Purpose and Heart”. The number and terms veteran cornerback Charles Woodson used during his memorable postgame locker-room speech following the NFC Championship in Chicago.[70]

On September 9, 2010, despite having three years left on his current contract, a thirty-three-year-old Woodson was offered and signed a two-year extension with the Packers, adding five years and $55 million to his existing pact.[71]

2011 season

Charles Woodson 2011
Woodson in 2011

When Woodson intercepted Cam Newton against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the 2011 season, it marked the fourth time he had intercepted a fellow winner of the Heisman Trophy.[72]The other three quarterbacks he intercepted a pass from were Vinny Testaverde, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart.[73] Woodson joined the 50-interception club when he picked off Kyle Orton in the first quarter in Week 4.[74] This, his eleventh career interception return for a touchdown, places him second all-time behind Rod Woodson, who was not related to him.[75][76]

Charles Woodson and Randy Moss - San Francisco vs Green Bay 2012
Woodson covering Randy Moss.

He finished the season with 74 total tackles, seven interceptions, one pick-six, 17 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and two sacks.[77][78]

2012 season

Woodson started 2012 in a different role for the Packers, hoping to fill the void left by free safety Nick Collins, who had been out of football for almost a year with a neck injury. He described it simply as "just playing football". Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers' plan appeared to be to line Woodson up at the safety position, while also situationally deploying him as the nickel-back. This saw Woodson in a Polamalu-like position of the Pittsburgh Steelers, lining up on either side ready to rush or drop back in coverage.

Against the 49ers in week 1, the 35-year-old Woodson recorded 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in a losing effort.[79] Against Chicago Bears in week 2, he recorded his 55th interception of his career, and first as a strong safety. The pass was intended for Earl Bennett.[80]

Woodson suffered a broken collarbone during the Packers' victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, October 21, and was out for the next nine games.[81][82] Overall, he finished the season with 38 total tackles, one interceptions, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, and 1.5 sacks.[83]

Woodson sat out several weeks with the broken collarbone, but made it back for the first playoff game against the Vikings.[84] He helped the Packers defeat the Vikings, but his team would fall to the 49ers the following week.[85]

On February 15, 2013, the Packers released Woodson.[86]

Oakland Raiders (second stint)

Charles Woodson 2014
Woodson with the Oakland Raiders in 2014

2013 season

On May 21, 2013, Woodson signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders.[87] He played in the preseason and started in week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. On October 6, in a game against the San Diego Chargers, Woodson tied the NFL record (with Darren Sharper and former teammate Rod Woodson) for most defensive touchdowns by scoring on a fumble recovery for his 13th defensive touchdown.[88] By season's end, he had played in 1,067 of 1,074 possible defensive snaps for the team[89] amassing 97 tackles (75 solo), 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 pass defenses, 1 interception, and the aforementioned touchdown.[90][91]

2014 season

In the 2014 season opener, Woodson recorded an interception against the New York Jets.[92] On December 7, 2014, he picked off Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers for his 3rd interception of the year, which sealed a Raiders victory.[93][94] Woodson finished the season with 111 total tackles, four interceptions, eight passes defensed, one fumble recovery, and one sack.[95][96]

2015 season

On January 26, 2015, the Raiders announced via Twitter that they had agreed to a contract for Woodson to return in 2015.[97]

In the 2015 season, Woodson was moved to strong safety. After this switch, Woodson became one of the few players in NFL history to play at all three spots in the secondary.

Prior to Week 5 against the Broncos, Woodson said that he always wanted to intercept a pass from Peyton Manning, as he had never accomplished the feat over his career. Woodson lived up to his word and picked off Manning two times. However, the Broncos won 16-10.[98]

Brock Osweiler 2015
Woodson in a game against the Denver Broncos in 2015

On December 21, 2015, Woodson announced that he would retire at the end of the season.[99][100] On January 3, 2016, he played in his final NFL game, a 23–17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.[101][102] He finished his final season with 74 total tackles, five interceptions, nine passes defensed, one forced fumble, and four fumble recoveries.[103] On February 12, 2016 it was announced that Woodson would be joining ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown, replacing Keyshawn Johnson for next season.

Career statistics

Year Team Games Tackling Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Solo Ast Sack Int Yards TD PD FF FR Yards TD
1998 OAK 16 16 64 61 3 0.0 5 118 1 0 2 0 0 0
1999 OAK 16 16 61 52 9 0.0 1 15 1 0 0 1 24 0
2000 OAK 16 16 79 66 13 0.0 4 36 0 0 3 1 0 0
2001 OAK 16 15 52 39 13 2.0 1 64 0 11 1 0 0 0
2002 OAK 8 7 33 31 2 0.0 1 3 0 4 4 1 0 0
2003 OAK 15 15 69 56 13 1.0 3 67 0 8 1 1 3 0
2004 OAK 13 12 73 58 15 2.5 1 25 0 9 2 1 0 0
2005 OAK 6 6 30 26 4 0.0 1 0 0 4 1 0 0 0
2006 GB 16 16 59 48 11 1.0 8 61 1 20 3 1 0 0
2007 GB 14 14 63 52 11 0.0 4 48 1 9 0 2 57 1
2008 GB 16 16 62 50 12 3.0 7 169 2 17 1 1 -2 0
2009 GB 16 16 74 66 8 2.0 9 179 3 18 4 1 0 0
2010 GB 16 16 92 76 16 2.0 2 48 1 13 5 0 0 0
2011 GB 15 15 74 62 12 2.0 7 63 1 17 1 1 -1 0
2012 GB 7 7 38 25 13 1.5 1 0 0 5 1 0 0 0
2013 OAK 16 16 97 75 22 2.0 1 13 0 3 3 2 25 1
2014 OAK 16 16 111 81 30 1.0 4 35 0 8 0 1 0 0
2015 OAK 16 16 74 59 15 0.0 5 22 0 9 1 4 36 0
Career 254 251 1,205 983 222 20.0 65 996 11 155 33 18 142 2

Personal life

Woodson is an oenophile who developed his interest in wine while playing football for the first time in Oakland, near the Napa Valley. He partnered with former Robert Mondavi winemaker Rick Ruiz to develop a signature wine label, "Twentyfour by Charles Woodson". The company is based in Napa, California, and is a small boutique winery, producing fewer than one thousand cases per year of its two varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Although the wine bears his name and signature, Woodson was warned by the NFL not to be seen endorsing the wine himself because of the league's alcohol policy.[104]

On November 26, 2009, Woodson contributed $2 million to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital for pediatric research.[105] Woodson has his own charitable foundation to support the fight against breast cancer known as "Charles Woodson Foundation".[106] In October 2012, Woodson donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Sandy relief effort.[107]

During the Green Bay Packers' 2010 Super Bowl winning season, Woodson publicly called out US President Barack Obama on the latter's support for longtime Packers' rivals, the Chicago Bears. In a post-game locker room interview, Woodson stated, "The President don't want to come watch us win the Super Bowl? Guess what? We’ll go see him" (implying that Green Bay would win the Super Bowl and visit the White House as the winning team does each year; a statement that would come true).[108] During the 2012 United States Presidential election campaign, Woodson publicly endorsed Obama at a political rally in Green Bay, stating "I believe in what he's trying to do."[109]

See also


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External links

1995 All-Big Ten Conference football team

The 1995 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players chosen as All-Big Ten Conference players for the 1995 NCAA Division I-A football season. Separate teams were selected by the Big Ten Conference football head coaches ("Coaches") and by a media panel ("Media").The 1995 Northwestern Wildcats football team won the Big Ten championship. Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald was selected as the consensus Defensive Player of the Year by both the Coaches and Media. Fitzgerald went on to become Northwestern's head football coach, a position he has held since 2006. In addition to Fitzgerald, the Wildcats had five other players selected as first-team honorees: running back Darnell Autry, defensive back Chris Martin, offensive linemen Rob Johnson and Ryan Padgett, and kicker Sam Valenzisi. Head coach Gary Barnett also won the Big Ten's Dave McClain Coach of the Year award.Despite finishing second in the conference, the 1995 Ohio State Buckeyes football team under head coach John Cooper led all other teams with seven first-team honorees. The Ohio State contingent was led by running back Eddie George who was the consensus selection as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. George also won the 1995 Heisman Trophy. The other Ohio State players receiving first-team honors were quarterback Bobby Hoying, wide receiver Terry Glenn, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, tight end Rickey Dudley, linebacker Mike Vrabel and defensive back Shawn Springs. George and Pace have both been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.The 1995 Michigan Wolverines football team under head coach Lloyd Carr also landed six players on the All-Big Ten first team. Michigan's honorees were linebacker Jarrett Irons, defensive tackle Jason Horn, defensive backs Charles Woodson and Charles Thompson, and offensive linemen Jon Runyan and Rod Payne. Woodson was named by the Coaches as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 1995, and he went on in 1997 to become the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.Penn State under head coach Joe Paterno also landed three players on the first team. They were wide receiver Bobby Engram, offensive lineman Jeff Hartings and defensive back Brian Miller. Running back Curtis Enis was honored by the Media as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

1996 Michigan Wolverines football team

The 1996 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1996 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team's head coach was Lloyd Carr. The Wolverines played their home games at Michigan Stadium. That year Michigan Wolverines football competed in the Big Ten Conference in almost all intercollegiate sports including men's college football. The 1996 Wolverines finished the season with an 8–4 record (5–3 in the Big Ten) and lost 17–14 to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1997 Outback Bowl. The team was ranked #20 in both the final coaches and AP polls.

1997 Big Ten Conference football season

The 1997 Big Ten Conference football season was the 102nd season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference and was a part of the 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season.

The 1997 Big Ten champion was Michigan. Led by head coach Lloyd Carr, Michigan compiled a perfect 12–0 record, defeated Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl, and was declared the national champion in the AP Poll. Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Ohio State finished in a tie for second place with a 10–3 record and lost to Florida State in the 1998 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State's defense was led by consensus All-American linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer.

Penn State also tied for second place and was led by Curtis Enis who rushed for 1,363 yards and led the conference with 120 points scored. The Nittany Lions began the 1997 season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and ended it with a loss to Florida in the 1998 Florida Citrus Bowl.

Purdue also tied for second place under first-year head coach Joe Tiller who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Purdue quarterback Billy Dicken led the conference with 3,136 passing yards, and wide receiver Brian Alford led the conference with 1,228 receiving yards.

Iowa was ranked as high as No. 4 in the AP Poll during the season and fielded the conference's most potent offensive with an average of 34.3 points scored per game. Iowa running back Tavian Banks led the conference with 1,639 rushing yards.

1997 Michigan Wolverines football team

The 1997 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1997 Big Ten Conference football season. In its third year under head coach Lloyd Carr, Michigan compiled a perfect 12–0 record, won the Big Ten Conference championship, defeated Washington State in the 1998 Rose Bowl, and was declared the national champion by the Associated Press and numerous other polls.

Michigan's defense was led by cornerback and Heisman Trophy-winner Charles Woodson. Woodson, who intercepted eight passes and also scored touchdowns via pass receptions, runs from scrimmage and punt return, became the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman. Woodson and defensive end Glen Steele were both first-team selections on the 1997 College Football All-America Team. Other standouts on defense included linebackers James Hall with 8.5 quarterback sacks, Sam Sword with 91 tackles, and Dhani Jones with 90 tackles and six sacks. The defense allowed no fourth quarter points or second half touchdowns in the first eight games of the season. The unit's performance across all games in total defense (222.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (9.5 points per game) are the lowest marks by any Big Ten Conference football team since the 1985 season.

On offense, the 1997 Michigan team had neither a 1000-yard rusher nor a 500-yard receiver. Tai Streets was the leading receiver with 476 receiving yards, and Chris Howard led the team in rushing with 938 rushing yards. Quarterback Brian Griese set Michigan single-season records with 193 pass completions and 307 pass attempts. Tight end Jerame Tuman, who was the only player on the offensive unit selected as a first-team All-American, totaled 437 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Ten members of the team were honored as All-Big Ten Conference selections, and running back Anthony Thomas was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Thirty-one members of the 1997 Wolverines football team went on to play in the NFL. Prior to 1997, the Wolverines had compiled four consecutive four-loss seasons and had not won a national championship since the 1948 Michigan team.

1997 NCAA Division I-A football season

The 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season, play of college football in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Division I-A level, began in late summer 1997 and culminated with the major bowl games in early January 1998. The national championship was split for the third time in the 1990s. The Michigan Wolverines finished the season atop the AP Poll after completing a 12–0 campaign with a Big Ten Conference championship and a victory in the Rose Bowl over Washington State. The Nebraska Cornhuskers garnered the top ranking in the Coaches' Poll with a 13–0 record, a Big 12 Conference championship, and a win over Tennessee in the Orange Bowl. Michigan's Charles Woodson, who played primarily at cornerback, but also saw time on offense as a wide receiver and on special teams as a punt returner, won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first primarily defensive player to win the award. The 1997 season was the third and final season in which the major bowl games were organized under the Bowl Alliance system. The Bowl Championship Series was instituted the following year.

In Tom Osborne's last season as head coach, Nebraska took over the #1 ranking in the nation after defeating Texas Tech midway through the season. Three weeks later, despite winning at Missouri in an overtime game against an unranked Missouri football team, Nebraska slipped to a #2 ranking in the polls, as voters weren't impressed by the way the Cornhuskers won the game (a controversial kicked ball that was caught for the game-tying TD as time expired in regulation); Michigan moved ahead of Nebraska after its 34-8 victory over #3 ranked Penn State.

The consensus #1 team going into the bowl season was undefeated Michigan, ranked #1 in both the AP and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Led by coach of the year Lloyd Carr and Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, Michigan went into the 1998 Rose Bowl against #8 Washington State. Michigan defeated Washington State 21–16.

Meanwhile, undefeated #2 Nebraska squared off in the 1998 Orange Bowl versus the #3 ranked Tennessee Volunteers. The Cornhuskers made a point of smacking down Tennessee as they defeated the Volunteers 42-17. Unusually for the low-key Osborne and his straight-ahead team, after the game he campaigned openly for Nebraska to be named the consensus national champion (Grant Wistrom stated that if "they wanted to give it to Michigan because they haven't won one in 50 years, we don't want it anyway.").

After the bowl games, the AP poll awarded the national championship to Michigan, and the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll awarded the national championship to Nebraska, giving Tom Osborne his third national title in four seasons to cap his career. This also marked the last time that a Big 10 (or Pac-10) team would be bound to play in the Rose Bowl instead of heading to a #1-#2 title game, due to the 1998 BCS realignment.

Florida State went into their final regular season game ranked #1. However, Fred Taylor of Florida would run for 162 yards and four touchdowns on the nation's top-ranked run defense, one of those touchdowns being the winning score with less than two minutes to play. This game is commonly referred to as "The Greatest Game Ever Played in the Swamp". Florida State's loss opened the door for Tennessee's Orange Bowl bid to play against Nebraska.

The Humanitarian Bowl, now known as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, began play in Boise, Idaho to help publicise the dwindling Big West Conference and Boise State. The Broncos with their blue turf had just made the jump to Division I-A a year earlier. The Big West champion had formerly gone to the Las Vegas Bowl, but the now only 6 team conference wasn't much of a seat filler.

The Motor City Bowl, now the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, began play in Detroit hosted by a MAC team.

The Copper Bowl gained corporate sponsorship and was now known as the Bowl; it is now known as the Cactus Bowl.

The MAC also grew to a 12-team, two-division conference with a championship game after the return of two former MAC members—Northern Illinois, returning from the independent ranks, and Marshall, moving up from Division I-AA. Marshall's addition increased the number of teams in Division I-A to 112. In a scenario similar to the Big West in 1992, this up-and-comer from I-AA was able to win its division and the inaugural conference championship game in its first year. To be fair, the Thundering Herd had gone unbeaten and won the I-AA national title the previous season, and had future NFL stars Randy Moss and Chad Pennington.

1997 Tennessee Volunteers football team

The 1997 Tennessee Volunteers football team represented the University of Tennessee during the 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season. Quarterback Peyton Manning had already completed his degree in three years, and had been projected to be the top overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft, but returned to Tennessee for his senior year. The Volunteers opened the season with victories against Texas Tech and UCLA, but for the third time in his career, Manning fell to Florida, 33–20. The Vols won the rest of their regular season games, finishing 10–1, and advanced to the SEC Championship Game against Auburn. Down 20–7, Manning led the Vols to a 30–29 victory. Throwing for four touchdowns, he was named the game's MVP, but injured himself in the process. The #3 Vols were matched up with #2 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Had Tennessee won and top-ranked Michigan lost to Washington State in the Rose Bowl, the Vols would have been expected to win the national championship. However, the Vols' defense could not stop Nebraska's rushing attack, giving up more than 400 yards on the ground in a 42–17 loss. As a senior, Manning won numerous awards. He was a consensus first-team All-American and won the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Award, and the Best College Football Player ESPY Award, among others. However, he did not win the Heisman Trophy, finishing runner-up to Charles Woodson, a CB from Michigan, and the only defensive player ever to win the Heisman Trophy.

1998 Oakland Raiders season

The 1998 Oakland Raiders season was their 39th in the league. They improved upon their previous season's output of 4–12, winning eight games. This was the team's fifth consecutive season in which they failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The season saw the Raiders draft Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson. He made an immediate impact and was named to the Pro Bowl following the season.

1999 Oakland Raiders season

The 1999 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 30th season in the National Football League, the 40th overall, their 4th season since their return to Oakland, and the second season under head coach Jon Gruden. They matched their previous season's output of 8–8. Thirteen of the team's sixteen games were decided by a touchdown or less, and none of the Raiders' eight losses were by more than a touchdown.

The season saw the team acquire quarterback Rich Gannon, who had his best seasons with the Raiders, being named MVP in 2002 and leading the team to a Super Bowl, that same season. His following two seasons after the Super Bowl were ruined by injuries and he was forced to retire in 2004. Gannon was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls (1999–2002) while playing for the Raiders.

2001 Oakland Raiders season

The 2001 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 32nd season in the National Football League, the 42nd overall, their sixth season since their move to Oakland, and the fourth year under head coach Jon Gruden, the last of his first stint as the team's head coach.

In the offseason, the Raiders acquired wide receiver Jerry Rice through free agency. Rice excelled with his new team, catching 83 passes for 1,139 yards and 9 touchdowns. The Raiders finished the season 10–6, finishing in first place in the AFC West for the second consecutive year. The Raiders qualified for the postseason, blowing out the New York Jets in the Wild Card round. In the Divisional round, the Raiders lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in a controversial finish. With a minute and 43 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Raiders leading 13–10, cornerback Charles Woodson appeared to force a fumble of Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady that was recovered by the Raiders. The play was reviewed by instant replay and the fumble was ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots tied the game in the ensuing drive and then won in overtime. The game became known as the Tuck Rule Game.

It would be Jon Gruden's final season as head coach in his first stint with the Raiders. After the season he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Tampa Bay's first-round draft picks in 2002 and 2003, their second-round draft picks in 2004 and 2005, and $8 million in cash. The Raiders faced Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl the next year, and lost 21–48. Gruden would return to the Raiders as head coach 16 years later in 2018.

2006 Green Bay Packers season

The 2006 Green Bay Packers season was the franchise's 88th season overall and their 86th in the National Football League.

This season resulted in an 8–8 record. After the firing of Mike Sherman, the Packers hired Mike McCarthy as their head coach. McCarthy helped improved the Packers from 4–12 the previous year to a .500 win average in 2006. The Packers failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year after the New York Giants gained the tie-breaker over the Packers in the last week of the 2006 NFL season.

2009 Green Bay Packers season

The 2009 Green Bay Packers season was the 91st season over all and their 89th in the National Football League. The Packers finished with an 11–5 record but lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Arizona Cardinals. They scored a franchise record 461 points (currently the third best behind the 2011 and 2014 teams) besting the 1996 Super Bowl team's 456. Charles Woodson was named Defensive Player of the Year for the season, leading the league with 9 interceptions. The defense ranked 2nd overall in the league (1st against the run; 2nd against the pass).

2013 Oakland Raiders season

The 2013 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 44th season in the National Football League, the 54th overall and the second under head coach Dennis Allen. With a 4–12 record, the Raiders secured their eleventh consecutive non-winning season, and missed the playoffs for an eleventh consecutive season. The Raiders entered the season with a new quarterback in Terrelle Pryor. Pryor started off the season in impressive fashion, with the team almost pulling off the upset in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, and defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. The team and Pryor eventually cooled down, resulting in Pryor being benched for Matt McGloin in the game against the Houston Texans. Before this game, history was made in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles when Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw 7 touchdown passes, the most passing touchdowns the Raiders had ever allowed in its history. Prior to the season starting, the Raiders brought back defensive back Charles Woodson, who spent the last 6 years with the Green Bay Packers.

2015 Oakland Raiders season

The 2015 Oakland Raiders season was the franchise's 46th season in the National Football League, the 56th overall, the 21st of their second stint in Oakland, and the first under new head coach Jack Del Rio. Coming off a 3–13 season the prior year, the Raiders improved to 7–9 on the season. Despite their improvement, the Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 15 with a loss to the Green Bay Packers at home. They once again failed to finish with a winning record, not having done so since 2002.

List of Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl selections

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. The team has had representatives to the Pro Bowl every year since 1950 except for nine seasons. Below is a list of the Pro Bowl selections for each season.

Lloyd Carr

Lloyd Henry Carr Jr. (born July 30, 1945) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the University of Michigan from 1995 through the 2007 season. Under Carr, the Michigan Wolverines compiled a record of 122–40 and won or shared five Big Ten Conference titles (1997, 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2004). Carr's 1997 team was declared the national champion by the Associated Press. His record coaching against top ten-ranked opponents was 20–8. Carr was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2011.

Michigan Wolverines football

The Michigan Wolverines football program represents the University of Michigan in college football at the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) level. Michigan has the most all-time wins in college football history. The team is known for its distinctive winged helmet, its fight song, its record-breaking attendance figures at Michigan Stadium, and its many rivalries, particularly its annual, regular-season-ending game against Ohio State, once voted as ESPN's best sports rivalry.Michigan began competing in intercollegiate football in 1879. The Wolverines joined the Big Ten Conference at its inception in 1896, and other than a hiatus from 1907 to 1916, have been members since. Michigan has won or shared 42 league titles, and, since the inception of the AP Poll in 1936, has finished in the top 10 a total of 38 times. The Wolverines claim 11 national championships, most recently that of the 1997 squad voted atop the final AP Poll.

From 1900 to 1989, Michigan was led by a series of nine head coaches, each of whom has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame either as a player or as a coach. Fielding H. Yost became Michigan's head coach in 1901 and guided his "Point-a-Minute" squads to a streak of 56 games without a defeat, spanning from his arrival until the season finale in 1905, including a victory in the 1902 Rose Bowl, the first college football bowl game ever played. Fritz Crisler brought his winged helmet from Princeton University in 1938 and led the 1947 Wolverines to a national title and Michigan's second Rose Bowl win. Bo Schembechler coached the team for 21 seasons (1969–1989) in which he won 13 Big Ten titles and 194 games, a program record. The first decade of his tenure was underscored by a fierce competition with his former mentor, Woody Hayes, whose Ohio State Buckeyes squared off against Schembechler's Wolverines in a stretch of the Michigan–Ohio State rivalry dubbed the "Ten-Year War".

Following Schembechler's retirement, the program was coached by two of his former assistants, Gary Moeller and then Lloyd Carr, who maintained the program's overall success over the next 18 years. However, the program's fortunes declined under the next two coaches, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, who were both fired after relatively short tenures. Following Hoke's dismissal, Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh on December 30, 2014. Harbaugh is a former quarterback of the team, having played for Michigan between 1982 and 1986 under Schembechler.

The Michigan Wolverines have featured 82 players that have garnered consensus selection to the College Football All-America Team. Three Wolverines have won the Heisman Trophy: Tom Harmon in 1940, Desmond Howard in 1991, and Charles Woodson in 1997. Gerald Ford, who later became the 38th President of the United States, started at center and was voted most valuable player by his teammates on the 1934 team.

Safety (gridiron football position)

Safety, historically known as a safetyman, is a position in American and Canadian football played by a member of the defense. The safeties are defensive backs who line up from ten to fifteen yards in front of the line of scrimmage. There are two variations of the position in a typical American formation: the free safety (FS) and the strong safety (SS). Their duties depend on the defensive scheme. The defensive responsibilities of the safety and cornerback usually involve pass coverage towards the middle and sidelines of the field, respectively. While American (11-player) formations generally use two safeties, Canadian (12-player) formations generally have one safety and two defensive halfbacks, a position not used in the American game.

As professional and college football have become more focused on the passing game, safeties have become more involved in covering the eligible pass receivers.Safeties are the last line of defense; they are expected to be reliable tacklers, and many safeties rank among the hardest hitters in football. Safety positions can also be converted cornerbacks, either by design (Byron Jones) or as a cornerback ages (Charles Woodson, DeAngelo Hall, Lardarius Webb, Tramon Williams).

Historically, in the era of the one-platoon system, the safety was known as the defensive fullback (specifically the free safety; the strong safety would be a defensive halfback, a term still in Canadian parlance) or goaltender.

Tuck Rule Game

The 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, also known as the Snow Bowl and the Tuck Rule Game, took place on January 19, 2002, at Foxboro Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the former home stadium of the Patriots. This was also the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, and was played under a heavy snowfall. The Patriots moved to Gillette Stadium the following season. To Raiders fans it is known as The New England Snow Job.

The name Tuck Rule Game originates from the controversial game-changing play. In the play, Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, which in turn, initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert, and, if it was a fumble, would have almost certainly sealed the game for Oakland. Officials reviewed the play, and eventually determined that even though Brady had seemingly halted his passing motion and was attempting to "tuck" the ball back into his body, it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble under the then-effective NFL rules. As a result, the original call was overturned, and the ball was given back to the Patriots, who subsequently moved the ball into field goal range.

With under a minute remaining in regulation, Patriots' placekicker Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game at 13, which sent the game into overtime. In the subsequent overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots. New England went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI, beginning a run of championships with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, appearing in nine and winning six to date.

Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame

The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame honors distinguished members of Wisconsin's sports history. The Hall of Fame hosts several annual events, including an induction ceremony to honor new members, nomination luncheons, speaker series breakfasts and more. Bronze commemorative plaques honoring the members of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, including Hank Aaron, Vince Lombardi, Oscar Robertson, Bart Starr and others, are displayed in the Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame promenade in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Led the league
Team won the Super Bowl
AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Bold Career high
Charles Woodson—awards, championships, and honors
ESPN NFL personalities
Color commentator
Sideline reporter

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