By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 at 8:43 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Beat writer Jerry McDonald stuck it out in Alameda all day, certainly much longer than many of the fans that arrived early, and he was rewarded with word that defensive back Charles Woodson is coming back to the Raiders.
Here’s McDonald’s story:
Charles Woodson is coming home, signing a one-year deal to return to the Raiders on Tuesday.
The contract reportedly is for $4.3 million, including a $700,000 signing bonus.
Sitting in the passenger seat of a black Suburban inching slowly toward the security gate, Woodson smiled broadly as a crowd of more than 100 fans chanted his name.
Woodson left at about 7:20 p.m., about five hours after he arrived. He had the driver stop the car so he could sign autographs for fans, many of whom turned around and drove back to the facility once they heard the news.
“I’ve got to go, so I can’t get to you all. Don’t worry, I’ll be around,” Woodson said.
A free agent visit by Woodson to the place where he started his career became an impromptu Raider rally, with word spreading via social media.
Once past the gate, Woodson looked toward the building, raised both arms in the air then walked inside, followed by a Raiders camera chronicling the event.
Wearing a blue Michigan T-shirt and blue jeans, Woodson, 36, re-emerged from the building accompanied by Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown and walked to the fence to acknowledge the crowd. He held a child’s size No. 24 Raiders jersey with his name on it as fans chanted, “Come home Woodson, come home Woodson.”
A Raider fan known as “Dr. Death,” decked out in full costume, was delighted.
“Now that’s what I came to see,” he said.
Released by the Green Bay Packers, Woodson had found the market for his services soft, due to both his age and the fact that he has broken his right collarbone twice in the past three years.
Woodson was unavailable to the media, as were Raiders coaches and players, with the one-day window for this week’s organized team activity having taken place Monday.
Woodson reportedly had an offer from the Denver Broncos, which apparently was not enough to get him signed. The New York Giants are also said to be interested.
Woodson visited the 49ers early in free agency but received no contract offer.
Fans began assembling in the back lot of the Raiders facility as early as 9:30 a.m., with two security guards hired by the team coming 30 minutes later. He didn’t arrive until approximately 2:30, not that fans seemed to mind.
Antoine Johnson, who grew up in Oakland and attends Sacramento State, was wearing a University of Michigan No. 2 jersey with Woodson’s name on the back, the number he wore on his way to winning the Heisman Trophy.
Later, when Woodson went to the fence, he acknowledged Johnson, who then pulled back the sleeve of his right arm to display a tattoo that said, “True to me.” Johnson said he got it because Woodson has the same tattoo and Woodson is his favorite player.
Shine Nieto drove for more than three hours from the Tule River Indian Reservation in the Sierra Nevada foothills to be at the facility. He carried with him a white Woodson No. 24 jersey.
“I just wanted to be here to welcome him,” Nieto said. “It’s like when Marcus Allen came back to the Coliseum to light the torch. It’s a special moment. Part of history.
Raiders players who were leaving after their OTA practice found themselves driving slowly through a gauntlet of cheering fans.
Fullback Marcel Reece even stopped, emerged from his car and exchanged hugs and handshakes with fans. So did defensive end Jason Hunter, who signed as an unrestricted free agent.