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Woodson can’t catch a break

NFL writer Jerry McDonald

Posted by NFL Editor and ANG football writer Jerry McDonald
No reason to feel sorry for Charles Woodson. The guy cashes a weekly paycheck of $619,825 — almost three times what guys like John Paul Foschi will make in an entire season. More power to him.

If the Raiders agreed to Woodson that much, he’d be a fool not to cash the checks. The Raiders either don’t feel he’s overrated or overpaid, or they were simply outmaneuvered by Carl Poston, Woodson’s agent.

But you wonder sometimes if Woodson is cursed. Seems like when he makes his most spectacular plays, the Raiders lose.

It happened again Sunday night against the Chiefs. Woodson’s strip of wide receiver Samie Parker, forcing a fumble recovered by Stuart Schweigert, was a spectacular individual play, a game-altering, game-winning play. Only the Raiders couldn’t cash it in for short-field points, and lost the game 23-17.

Remember Super Bowl XXXVIII? Woodson intercepted Brad Johnson’s first pass of the game. OK, he got lucky. Regan Upshaw forced the interception with a furious pass rush and Woodson, recovering from a broken ankle, was basically a shell of himself. The Raiders lost 48-21.

How about the Tuck Rule? Woodson again. Nobody had even heard of Walt Coleman until he forced Tom Brady into, um, an alleged incomplete pass.

Even weirder was Dec. 16, 2000 in Seattle. The Raiders led 24-19 and Woodson runs down Ricky Watters from behind at Husky Stadium, and with a mighty swipe, knocks the ball loose. Marquez Pope falls on it, and hydroplanes into the end zone. At best, the Raiders would get the ball at the 20, with Pope’s progress carrying him in. At worst, he’d be ruled down at the 2. Still an Oakland ball.

Not so fast. Officials ruled Pope had supplied the momentum into the end zone and ruled it a safety. The Seahawks not only got two points, but the Raiders had to kick away. Seattle took the ball and drove for the winning score. The rule has since been changed so the recovering team cannot be penalized in such a fashion.

Woodson hasn’t scored a touchdown since 1999, returning an interception 15 yards for a touchdown against Kansas City. The Raiders lost that time, too, 37-34.

One of the great debates among Raider fans is whether Woodson is the player his salary and status says he is. To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth on this one myself. He hasn’t had the career one would expect, and has been to injury prone to even approach a Hall of Fame standard. Frankly, the first couple of years, that’s where Woodson looked like he was headed.

He can be inconsistent from game to game or play to play. He can lock up Randy Moss one game, fall asleep on a crucial third-and-long the next.

You read these anonymous quotes from scouts and personnel men who say he’s overrrated, and sometimes, as he disappears for plays at a time, you wonder if they’re right. But then again, I’ve spoken to guys like Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott — two players beyond reproach as far as I’m concerned — and they absolutely love Woodson’s game.

They like the way he tackles, the energy he brings to the field. The fact that he’s an all-around defender who can cover, tackle and even rush the passer.

If only he had a little good luck.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer