By Steve Corkran
Sunday, September 15th, 2013 at 6:34 pm in Oakland Raiders.
OAKLAND – There’s a belief by some that Raiders owner Mark Davis signed safety Charles Woodson just to sell more tickets to home games and jerseys with Woodson’s name on them.
That’s true, in part. Yet, it’s also a fact that Woodson isn’t your ordinary 36-year old, and he brings more to the equation than selling power.
“The scary thing about it is, I watch him on film and in practice every day and the guy’s still got it,” Raiders veteran offensive tackle Khalif Barnes said a short time after the Raiders beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 19-9 at the Coliseum in Woodson’s first regular-season home game since he signed with the Raiders in the offseason..
“It’s not like he’s old and can’t move. The dude can still play. It’s crazy actually. He’s a machine. I don’t know how he does it after 17 years.”
Plenty of thirtysomethings still can play, but how many of them can fly through the air, literally, with the greatest of ease and make perhaps the play of the day?
Woodson showed doubters about his ability to play at a high level just how much he has left Sunday, when he left his feet and launched himself shoulder height toward Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew in the second quarter.
Woodson scored a direct hit, just as Jones-Drew pointed himself toward the Raiders goal line, and dragged down Jones-Drew at the 3-yard line. The Jaguars settled for a field goal two plays later.
“It don’t matter, man,” Woodson said of his heroics. “I’m just flying over a building in a single bound.”
Raiders coach Dennis Allen called the play “huge” and said it helped the Raiders shift momentum.
“Any time you see a guy like Charles Woodson who has played as long as he has and the way he can play at the level that he’s played,” Allen said, “for him to make an effort play like that really gives the whole team and the defense in particular a lot of momentum. It was a great play.”
Woodson’s also making a huge impression on his teammates, especially the younger ones.
Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden didn’t see Woodson’s high-flying acrobatics. Just the same, he said, he draws inspiration from a player the Raiders selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL draft.
“It’s motivation,” Hayden said of Woodson’s play. “If he can do it, anyone of us can do it. … Hopefully a little bit of him rubs off on me.”
Through two games so far, the Raiders defense allowed only 30 points, or slightly more than what the Raiders allowed per game last season, when Woodson was wrapping up his Green Bay Packers career.
Call it the Woodson Effect? Call it whatever you want, Woodson said, but there’s a feeling that the Raiders are on to something meaningful defensively.
“We’re onto playing good, hard football,” Woodson said, “and that’s all we can really ask of everybody. (Sunday), for the most part, we did our job as a team collectively. We beat a team I felt like we were supposed to beat and that’s a step in the right direction.”
Of course, Barnes would say in a lighter moment, Woodson might need a cane to take that step.
“He could play another two or three years if he wants to,” Barnes said. “He’s the true definition of a guy that does it because he loves to, because he really doesn’t have to. It’s plays like that, man, there’s not a lot of guys in this room that would put their body through that.”