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Woodson was old by 2005, 29 and out of good graces in Oakland. The Raiders made no attempt to negotiate a new contract, meaning that for the first time ever Woodson wasn’t worth the hassle. He was a veteran corner who had missed more than a third of his possible regular season appearances in four seasons. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only two teams to show legitimate interest in him. He signed with the Packers in 2006 despite an opportunity to reunite with former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.
I was in college at Wisconsin at that point, which put me in close proximity to Woodson once again. No one trumpeted his arrival. There were hopes he’d bolster the secondary, but not in a singular way. No one could have expected him to become the prototype for the hybrid corner-backer suited to dismantling modern offenses. His legacy was supposed to be that of a great player with an odd career trajectory, not a Hall of Famer.
Woodson went to Green Bay, a place where he knew there was almost nothing to do, and dedicated himself to the things he never did in Oakland. He lifted weights and molded himself to Dom Capers’ defensive scheme.
“We played a game in London during that stretch and that was perfect for us because it helped bring our team even more together,” Hunt said. “Once we got to 5-5 and we saw how the division and Wild Card races were shaping up, we knew we really did have a chance. Everyone’s heads went from being a little down at the start to rising. Andy got them all to stick together.”
Somebody helped keep Reid assured.
In good times and in bad, he keeps in touch with his old college coach, Brigham Young icon LaVell Edwards. Reid played offensive tackle for Edwards at BYU and afterward, in 1982, Reid began his coaching career there. He calls Edwards at least once a week. There is a comfort level and love there that is cherished on both sides.
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Edwards tells Reid he does not look so great in red.