Q&A with Charles Woodson

The DB talks about how he thinks about the New England call every day, why he's best at man-to-man and after failing the past two years - why this year the Raiders WILL go to the Super Bowl

Can you talk about how you have managed to play on a broken leg, what's the status of that? And how rusty did you feel Sunday? You didn't look very rusty.

WOODSON: Well, I just tried to get into the flow of the game. The leg felt pretty good. Everyone knows what happened, and the metal placed into my leg which stabilized the bone and keeps the cracked bone from moving so the bone itself is pretty much stable. Now the only thing, it's pretty much -- the muscles around that plate are working, trying to get around that, so it's a little sore now. But during the game it felt good.

Q. What is it like coming into a locker room with older guys like Jerry Rice and Tim Brown and Romanowski and Gannon, do you feel that you have to respect your elders; that you have to show them stuff that you can do?

WOODSON: Well, you know, the respect thing comes from growing up as a child. You respect your elders anyway and we definitely have a great deal of respect for the guys you just mentioned. You can't do anything but have respect for these guys. These guys have been playing the game for a long time. Some say they look as though may have lost a step, but it doesn't look like it because they are always working hard.

Q. Does it sometimes feel that you're like a kid in a room with all of these older guys, do you wonder how it has been that they have played so long?

WOODSON: Oh, definitely. All of these guys I watched play when I was in high school. You never really think that one day you'll actually be on the same team with them. But here we are in a situation where I'm playing with the greatest of all time with Jerry Rice and then Tim Brown, just got 1,000 catches. It's great just to be around these guys, and then you step up your game as well.

Q. When you get into the playoffs and so close to the Super Bowl, how does your preparation change to play a game?

WOODSON: Just got to fine-tune things a little more. You know that when you play in the playoffs it's not like a regular season. It's not like playing a game where you may lose to a team once and you get to play them later on in the season . In February, you're watching the teams that didn't make the playoffs or the teams that got defeated. It's the finality of the situation; knowing that if you lose you go home. Everybody is taking things a lot more serious right now.

Q. Speaking of the older players, how important is it -- obviously Tim Brown to finally win one and see some of these guys that have never gotten one?

WOODSON: Everyone wants to get one. I want to get one myself. Everybody right now, we're playing for each other. There's a lot of guys, older guys like you said, only team that has not won a Super Bowl. I have not been to a Super Bowl. We are all trying to get there and we are all trying to win it for each other.

Q. That play last year in New England, do you think of it every day?

WOODSON: Yeah and what we try to do now is not let the game be decided by an official at the end of the game; win it outright and not have it come down to a play call.

Q. Would you talk briefly about a thought or dream you might have had as a youngster of playing in the Super Bowl?

WOODSON: You know, every year you watch the Super Bowl game or National Championship Game in college, you see a team win and get up on the podium and you see the confetti flying all over the place. Anybody who ever watches a team win a championship, you know, you get that warm feeling all over your body like, "I wish that was me up there." For a long time I wanted to be in that position. We can almost taste it, but we know we've got a long way to go with two games. Hopefully we can get to the Super Bowl and win it. I want to be in that position. I want to be the one standing there with the confetti and having Tagliabue there or whoever hands us a championship trophy. I  want to be in that position.

Q. With the rules the way they are to benefit offenses and defenses the way they are, playing cornerback has gotten harder definitely in the NFL, can you address that and talk about being on the other side of the ball? And if you have a child who wanted to play cornerback, would you encourage him to play receiver or another position?

WOODSON: You're kind of at a disadvantage the way they call interference and things like that. You can't do anything until you're downfield and if you catch a touchdown, it's all good, but if a defensive back so much as touches a receiver or cuts him off downfield, they are going to call it, and then that's a big gain for the offense. So, it's tough. You have to have a short-term memory, go out, make a play and make a down.

I wouldn't try to influence him one way or another no. I would let him know it's a man's game and you've got to be tough to play in this game.

Q. You talked about the confetti, being on the podium. You won a National Championship in college and a Heisman Trophy; did it satisfy you or make you want more?

WOODSON: It satisfied me at that point in time because that was the most you could do in college. I haven't been to the top in the NFL yet. And once you do that, you want to win it and take advantage of the opportunity. That's what I'm looking forward to doing.

Q. You've been an All-Pro and you are considered one of the best at what you do, but do you feel your career would be fulfilled without the ring in any way?

WOODSON: No, not at all. I don't think any athlete that plays whatever sport feels like their career is fulfilled if they don't win a championship. I made Pro Bowl, and that's fine and dandy. I've been Defensive Player of the Year; that's cool, but we are out here to win a championship.

Q. Can you talk about the difference playing man-to-man versus zone coverage? I know that you prefer to play man-to-man.

WOODSON: Yeah, man-to-man, you have one responsibility. You don't have a whole lot to think about. Playing zone out there, you are kind of relying on someone else and a guy might make a play and he might be looking at you, or somebody is looking at him -- you know, playing man-to-man, it it's all about you again.

Q. Is that something that you look forward to, a one-on-one matchup, would you have hate it if you had to play a lot of zone?

WOODSON: That's not my thing. Zone is not my game. Wherever I'm at, then I want to be playing mostly man-to-man. Zone is cool. Sometimes you get your zone, but man-to-man is what I do.

Q. The last two years the Raiders have come close to advancing to the Super Bowl. Why do you think that this year is different?

WOODSON: Just have a better team, more established team. Two years ago, we were pretty close, but we just couldn't get it done as far as moving the ball the way we wanted to on offense and defense, getting the one big play and that killed us. This year we are more balanced offensively and defensively. Our offense can move the ball on anybody and put up points and our defense can stop them when we need to. So hopefully we can take that into this game and win this game.

Q. A few years ago Rich Gannon got hurt in the Championship Game. Can you talk about his impact on this team and just the things that he does, how does he amaze you?

WOODSON: He's done a great job for us. It's really amazing, for years not having been a starter and now he comes out here last few years, made it to the Pro Bowl, been a Pro Bowl starter, still playing out there with the best of them. When we need a play -- you need him to make a play and he's been making plays all year.

Q. You've played through some pretty tough injuries including the leg and shoulder and so forth. What's the toughest injury you played through, and what motivation do you need to get yourself out there and play through those things?

 WOODSON: This is the toughest one, by far. Your legs are everything in this game. Legs are kind of beat up, I just had the surgery, so, I've been out of this game for a few games now. So a little rusty early on in the game trying to get back in the groove of the game. This is by far the worst because of everything I went through as far as surgery and everything.

Q. How do you wipe something like that out of your mind, how do you get out there on the field and not think about that? Just a normal human feeling of that injury?

WOODSON: Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is the motivating factor for everything. When I'm out there on the field, I know that I can't think about that. I know I have to go out there and guard whatever man, keep him from getting a touchdown and all that stuff because we are trying to get a Super Bowl. Thinking about the Super Bowl blocks everything out.

Q. Do you feel any pressure playing the Titans?

WOODSON: No, there's no pressure. We'll go out there and play the way we want to play, eliminate mistakes and win the game. There's no pressure at all.

Q. With the increased awareness or concentration on helmet-to-helmet hits, how does that affect you as a defender, do you find yourself dwelling on what not to do?

WOODSON: No, not really. I'm not a big hitter. I'm a tackle-type guy. I'm there to make a short tackle. I'm not really there to get a big hit. To me, it's not really a concern. For a guy that plays safety who has guys coming across the middle all the time -- when you come up to hit a guy, you don't really think about where you're going to hit him or how you're going to hit him. You think about making a big hit and making a big play and trying to get the ball out. Most of the time when a guy goes to hit somebody, it's natural for you to duck your head, and by the time you hit another guy in the helmet and they call it, it's just a natural reaction for some people.

Q. Do you still want to play receiver, do you ever talk to Al or Bill Callahan about that?

WOODSON: No, I haven't mentioned that all year. Right now we are concentrating on trying to get to the Super Bowl.

Q. What do you think about Steve McNair?

WOODSON: He's playing well. He's going to be a challenge for us and we have to be able to stop him this week.

Q. Because of the team's injuries and the real physical pounding a team will take during the season, what percentage of good luck is involved to get as far as you guys have?

WOODSON: I guess there's a little bit of luck. But when you prepare and you prepare the best you can, you know you've got the chance. You go out there knowing what it is you have to do. Luck is a very small part of it, but there's always a little bit of luck involved in anything that you do, and hopefully whatever little bit of luck we need we'll get it done.

Q. Can you give me an idea of how much talk is in your team's locker room about what happened that last season?

WOODSON: Some of receivers will talk about it, but lately we haven't talked about it at all. Our only thought is about going out there and winning and not letting it come down to an official's call.


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