GREEN BAY – He laughed, but it might’ve been through clenched teeth.
“Every time you talk about it, it opens up the wound a little bit. Now we’re back this week talking about it, and now I’m angry again,” Charles Woodson said, then sharing a laugh with reporters gathered to talk to the former Packers star on Wednesday.
“I guess I’ll never get over it,” he added.
Woodson, now a member of the Oakland Raiders, was referring to having been released by the Packers following the 2012 season. He signed with the Raiders and has since added three stellar seasons onto an already Hall of Fame career.
This Sunday, Woodson will lead the wild-card-hopeful Raiders, 6-7, against the visiting Packers, 9-4. The Packers are trying to hold onto their one-game lead in the NFC North.
“Yeah, it’s special. I spent seven years in Green Bay. A lot of good times, a lot of great years, got a lot accomplished. Now, they’re the opponent. Yeah, there’s something there, but at the same time it’s a game. As much as it is about Green Bay, it’s about the Oakland Raiders,” he added.
Packers fans will forever remember Woodson for his heart-and-soul locker room speech following the 2010 NFC title game. Two weeks later, the Packers would claim the Super Bowl XLV trophy.
At 39 and in his 18th NFL season, Woodson has five interceptions and is performing at a level reserved for players in their prime. His longevity is especially mystifying at a position associated with young legs.
“We’ve worked hard at managing him and how much wear and tear we put on him during the week, but when it comes to Sunday, the guy just comes alive. There was a game earlier in the season when, honestly, I was just looking at a ceremonious start. I told the coaches to get him in and then get him out of there. He was all beat up. He goes out there and I think it was 80 plays later he comes up with a pick to seal the victory,” Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio said.
“There weren’t people knocking my door down to come play for them. So, (the Packers) weren’t the only ones that thought I was done. Each year I come back, I feel like I not only prove to everyone else, but prove to myself this is what I should be doing,” Woodson said.
What do he and the Raiders need to do to beat Aaron Rodgers this week?
“Just keep it simple. Don’t try to do too much because he has the ability to hurt you,” Woodson said.
The Raiders are a team with a seemingly bright future, largely built on a young quarterback on the rise, an excellent receiving corps and a star pass rusher, Khalil Mack. Derek Carr has the Raiders’ passing attack up to No. 12, and the Raiders are coming off an uplifting, 15-12 win in Denver.
“I think we got a great deal of confidence coming out of a ballgame that was in a tough environment, was against a tough team, and we didn’t play our best, but we had great resolve and will to win, and we were able to pull it out. It’s not like we have to play perfect to win, but if we play hard, anything is possible,” Del Rio said.
“We feel like we’re getting ourselves ready for a real good Packers team. Anything that has to do with us doing anything beyond this season is all about winning the next game. That’s where all of our attention is,” he added.
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