Why in God’s name would Charles Woodson turn down two Super Bowl contenders to join an NFL bottom feeder?
Well if the saying is still true, “once you go Silver and Black, you never leave the pack.”
Woodson spurned the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos by signing a one-year, $4.3 million deal with the Raiders on May 21. The ex- Packer played his first eight seasons in Oakland (where he was a three-time All Pro selection), but it was a shock that the 37 year old future Hall of Famer would choose to potentially log his last down with a rebuilding team.
“Charles can still play football,” Mark Davis told CSNCalifornia when the news broke. “I guess it goes back to once a Raider, always a Raider. He wants to put the Silver and Black back on.”
The “once a Raider, always a Raider” mantra was coined by the late Al Davis, who never lost touch with those who left the franchise for new beginnings. In the eyes of the original Mr. Raider, working for the organization meant you were forever a part of the family, which almost every former employee acknowledges.
“If something is said about the Raiders, I’m ready to go to war,” the legendary Jim Otto stated.
“I was born to be a Raider…you just know the mentality of the Silver and Black…there’s just no other uniform I would want to put on,” Patriots championship cog Richard Seymour proclaimed in 2010.
“Being a former Raider, it’s always in you,” chimed Bucky Brooks, who played in Oakland for half a season (in 1998). “It never changes. Silver and Black ‘til I die.”
Of course, not everyone buys into the program, as Randy Moss and JaMarcus Russell can attest. More recently, Kevin Boss caught the ire of Raider Nation when he claimed Kansas City represented the “right” side of the longtime AFC West rivalry.
“I just know now that I’m on the better side of the rivalry,” Boss explained after signing with the Chiefs in 2012 (following his release from Oakland one year into a four-year deal). “It’s been a great transition and it’s really been a blessing in disguise to have been moved on to greener pastures.”
Switching from an 8-8 squad to a two-win club is not my definition of “greener pastures,” but if that’s what Boss wants to believe, so be it. He and the rest of the players who had a less-than-spectacular time with the Raiders can deny (in a concussed state, as is Boss’ case) that they ever wore the uniform, although reality tells a different story.
In short, you’d have to be slightly deranged to not treasure suiting up for a storied franchise like the Oakland/LA Raiders. From captains to draft busts, and chokers to knuckleheads, it doesn’t really matter. Ex-Raiders will always be regarded as Raiders, and the Nation says thanks for risking life and limb.
Woodson, it’s like you never left.