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Woodson didn't think he'd like Green Bay

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By GARY D'AMATO
    gdamato@journalsentinel.com
    Posted: Jan. 16, 2008

    Green Bay - Charles Woodson wasn't going to lie. He never really wanted to play for the Green Bay Packers. Nothing against the city or the organization, but he didn't think he'd fit in.

    Wearing a Packers uniform wasn't really in Charles Woodson's plans when he was a free agency.

    As a free agent in 2006, the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback hoped to sign with Jacksonville or Tampa Bay. He'd probably have been happy going to any of another half-dozen teams.

    But Green Bay? The city wasn't big enough, the lights weren't bright enough and the team, coming off a 4-12 record in 2005 and starting over under a new coach named Mike McCarthy, wasn't good enough.

    "I came here and played before (with the Oakland Raiders), but all the talk you hear from people that played in Green Bay, it's like, 'You don't want to play there,' " Woodson said Wednesday. "Coming from Oakland, this is day and night. And every account I can remember of someone talking about Green Bay, this was not my type of place."

    Asked about his concerns, Woodson said, "It was everything - organization, nightlife, the whole thing. You know, just being in Green Bay. The talk is always this is no place for a black man and that's just how it was."

    Woodson, who had played eight seasons for the Raiders, reluctantly signed with the Packers after there were no other suitors for a cornerback coming off a second broken leg and thought to be in decline. He wasn't a happy training camper in '06 and got off to a shaky start with McCarthy.

    But funny how things work out.

    Woodson not only came to appreciate Green Bay and the Packers organization, but has revived his career and has teamed with Al Harris to form one of the top cornerback tandems in the NFL. Best of all, he is one victory away from playing in Super Bowl XLII.

    "I'm playing with a great bunch of guys," he said. "I'm just excited to be able to play with a defense like this. . . . I'm just having a lot of fun."

    Woodson, 31, has fought through toe and knee injuries to start 14 games for the NFC North champions, who take a 14-3 record into the NFC Championship Game against the New York Giants on Sunday.

    During the regular season he had 64 tackles and four interceptions and averaged 8.1 yards on 33 punt returns. He also scored two defensive touchdowns, on a 57-yard fumble return against the Washington Redskins and a 46-yard interception return against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    Woodson's season is all the more remarkable considering many around the league thought his days as an elite cornerback were over after he suffered a series of knee and leg injuries in Oakland.

    As a free agent in the spring of '06, Woodson instructed his agent to contact Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.

    "Every time I talked to my agent, when I'm asking him about all these other teams, he's saying, 'Well, they haven't said anything, but Green Bay called again, so what do you want to do?' " Woodson recalled. "It was almost like this was where I had to play. . . . At that point, it was Green Bay or bust."

    Early on, some of Woodson's new teammates thought he was aloof and had a hard time connecting with him. Woodson said he saw talent in Green Bay, but "we were just a bunch of individuals on the team."

    He also got off on the wrong foot with McCarthy and had many post-practice conversations with the coach in which they hashed out their differences.

    "A lot of those talks after practices weren't necessarily good talks," he said. "We met a couple times in private and tried to talk through things. I had to get some fines and that sort of thing."

    The Packers soon discovered, however, that while Woodson frequently seemed to be battling one injury or another, he always showed up on Sundays and played with a fierce competitiveness. His pressing style fit Green Bay's aggressive man-to-man scheme. Maybe he had lost a step over the years, but opposing receivers seldom separated from him.

    McCarthy allowed Woodson to miss practices to rest and rehabilitate his injuries (he's been bothered by turf toe this year) and the strategy has paid off.

    "I think he understands that, for me, during the week, no matter what's going on - whether I'm hurt, whether it's turf toe, whether it's my knee or any other situation that's going on in my life or with the team - on Sunday, I'm coming to play," Woodson said. "I think he understands that.

    "You have to have your rules, of course, but some people you just have to deal with differently, and not only does the coach have to understand that, but players have to understand that as well. A young guy's not going to be treated like a 10-year veteran, and he's not supposed to.

    "And once everybody can buy in, then the sky's the limit."

    Over the last two years, Woodson also has discovered that his perceptions of Green Bay were wrong. He's probably not going to make it his home after he retires, but he likes the city and the environment.

    "I've been out and a lot of what I heard about, it just hasn't happened," he said. "My experience being here, the two years I've been here, it's not been like people told me it would be. I've been able to go out in restaurants and sit down and eat in peace and it's been great.

    "So my story of Green Bay and the people (here) would be a little different than what was told to me."
     
  2. gopackgo

    gopackgo Cheesehead

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    All I'm imagining is McCarthy taping a jersey on him so he'll play.

    It sucks getting a bad rap and potentially losing players because of it. Glad Woodson has seen the light and hopefully this changes other players opinions as well.
     
  3. TheDesertFox

    TheDesertFox Cheesehead

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    Sounds like players say that the locals like to hassle them when they see them in public. You have to understand though... being a celebrity in a city of 100,000 would be very tough. It's even tougher since Green Bay isn't really close to anywhere where you could get away. Maybe Appleton?

    Upset to hear that players who have played here talk about how bad an experience it was, though.
     
  4. wpr

    wpr Cheesehead

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    It seems fair that Wood wasn't real happy coming to GB. I wasn't sure he would be able to perform at the high level he has played at when GB picked him up.
     
  5. Yared-Yam

    Yared-Yam Cheesehead

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    I got to listen to Wood's turn at the press conference yesterday and it was very interesting I thought. He's a very thoughtful guy.

    I didn't expect him to admit that he didn't want to be here pretty much or that he was advised against it by former GB players(my guess is J-Walk or McKenzie during the Sherman years). That's a pretty big statement to make in my eyes.

    Luckily, winning heals all
     
  6. Tylaa

    Tylaa Cheesehead

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    Yeah, but if you think about it. We were a horrible teams then. I realise why he wouldn't want to come here. He probably thought he was coming to another Raider team.
     
  7. TheDesertFox

    TheDesertFox Cheesehead

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    It's not just that. As much as we'd like to deny it, many players hate living in Green Bay. Much of what he heard had to do with this.
     
  8. JoshTheChild

    JoshTheChild Cheesehead

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    my friends tell me I am the non-white packers fan they have ever known(I am hispanic), I don't really care though I love my team
     
  9. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Yeah, I thought that pretty much ended when the Packers started winning in the 90s. I'm sure it is still a lot better than it was in the 80s, but it is still a lot like living in a fishbowl, especially for the black players.

    I'm glad Ted gave Woodson the big bucks to come here. At the time, I thought it was a bad deal for the Packers.
     
  10. JoshTheChild

    JoshTheChild Cheesehead

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    isn't milwaukee near green bay? players could go there if they hated gb so much
     
  11. TheDesertFox

    TheDesertFox Cheesehead

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    I've heard from friends that some players like to live in Appleton because despite their obvious "upper class" appearance that would probably indicate they are professional athletes, people don't seem to approach them nearly as much, and the restaurants and "nightlife" are better than Green Bay.

    Too bad Green Bay isn't closer to Milwaukee, even though I know many NBA players aren't too happy with there either.
     
  12. Yared-Yam

    Yared-Yam Cheesehead

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    Milwaukee is a good 2-ish hour drive south of GB. They aren't very close.
     
  13. JoshTheChild

    JoshTheChild Cheesehead

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    oh ok I thought it was only an hour
     
  14. wpr

    wpr Cheesehead

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    Not too viable. I think it is 2 hours away. If they were to stay at club til 1-2 AM they would be getting back way too late and the expressway is near Lake Michigan. You can get heavy lake effect snows just about any time during the winter months.
     
  15. TheDesertFox

    TheDesertFox Cheesehead

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    A lot of players chill in Milwaukee during the offseason, though, it seems. There, at least, white people are the minority.
     
  16. TheKanataThrilla

    TheKanataThrilla Cheesehead

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    So who are hispanic people suppose to cheer for? Kansas City?

    I've never understood that and I live in Canada where it also seems to be the case. For some strange reason if you are coloured you don't like Green Bay. The weird thing is I know many black people who like Minny, and it is not like there are many black people who live there? Could it be lack of black QBs in Green Bay? A lot of the black guys I know like teams with black QBs.

    I completely understand the small town celebrity thing, but you can't tell me that if Brett Favre played in New York he wouldn't be harrassed all the time either. I guess the thinking is because he is black he must play for the Packers, but I think most fans are only really interested in meeting their favourites and not some guy who may be on the practice roster.
     
  17. Murgen

    Murgen MechaPackzilla

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    You know, now that I think about it, I've never met a non white GB Packer fan either. LOL

    I've seen some black guys in the crowd cheering on the Packers, and some gang members wearing GB Packer colors (not because they were fans, but it was their gang colors).
     
  18. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    2 hours? Heck, a lot of us Californians have 2 hour commutes.
     
  19. TheDesertFox

    TheDesertFox Cheesehead

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    Its really weird, but it seems to me like the only team with a signifnicant non-black fanship is the Cowboys and Titans. Blacks all over the US love these two teams.

    If you go to the metrodome, soldier field, lincoln financial... you'll see only white people.
     
  20. Murgen

    Murgen MechaPackzilla

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    You know, now that I think about it, I've never met a non white GB Packer fan either. LOL

    I've seen some black guys in the crowd cheering on the Packers, and some gang members wearing GB Packer colors (not because they were fans, but it was their gang colors).
     
  21. PackerLegend

    PackerLegend Cheesehead

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    Well im really happy Woodson came here he really helped us a ton and hopefully other players will want to come here to.
     
  22. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

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    I think the Packers' coaching and management staff should be commended on how they handled this situation.

    I didn't hear about this until yesterday, which means everything with Woodson was dealt in house. That's the way it should be.

    You have to give it up with McCarthy and C-Wood, ironing out their differences and getting on the same page. These two don't have to be best friends forever, but they seem to have established a solid working relationship, which is great.
     
  23. PackCrazed4

    PackCrazed4 Cheesehead

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    I hate to say it, but when Wood came here I got that vibe from him, he came here for the money, what else?


    But I mean, I can see why GB has a bad rap. No player really wants to chose to play in a city with population 100,000, its out in the middle of nowhere in terms of city and nightlife, not to mention its COOOOOOOOLD! So, besides the prospect of playing with a future HOF in Brett, why else would players want to come here?

    But the thing is, I think in order to appreciate the GB life, you either have to be a drafted rookie, or an older veteran who wants a nice place for his kids to grow up and go to school. We're not a gleaming neon sign that says "Come here" for free agency members to sign. But its ok, players just need to give it a chance, once most are here they seem to latch on to the team quite a bit, plus, the "no nightlife" situation concentrates all thinking on the game during the season, and more time is spent at Lambeau
     
  24. pack_in_black

    pack_in_black Cheesehead

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    lol. Brilliant.
     
  25. cheesey

    cheesey Cheesehead

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    There are PLENTY of black people in GB now. It's NOT like it was in the 1960's. It amazes me that people still think that way.
    And lets see..........you get paid millions of dollars, everyone loves you and wants to get your autograph.......why cry??? In a few years, when he (or any player) is retired, they will WISH someone wanted to see them.
    They don't appreciate what they have if they look at the fans as an inconvienience. At least thats how i feel.
     

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