The great No. 26 combined speed, strength and athleticism to such a degree that many of those who were around him in the early days of his career are still in awe of how good he was, as this late-June story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reveals.
Woodson's career brings back a few distinct memories:
1) Video footage on the news every night of him hurdling somewhere in Europe during his rookie-year holdout in 1987.
2) The fumble he forced and recovered that led to the game-winning field goal to beat the Houston Oilers on the road in overtime in the 1989 playoffs.
3) The way he'd take risks and sometimes get beat deep, which was OK because more often than not he'd also jump a route a make a play.
4) Barry Sanders making a cut and forcing Woodson to tear the ACL in his right knee on the Three Rivers Stadium
concrete turf in the 1995 season opener. He would later return for Super Bowl XXX against the Cowboys -- still the only player to come back from such an injury in the same season -- only to have Michael Irvin joke that Woodson would have to cover "the human Autobahn." And, at one point, after Woodson broke up a pass intended for Irvin, he promptly stood in front of Irvin and pointed at the knee. Which was just awesome.
5) His departure after the 1996 season. Eagles fans chagrined over Brian Dawkins, I know how you feel.
6) His finally winning a ring with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Wait. I wish I didn't remember that.
Hats off, Rod, the first post-70s Steeler to get into the Hall. For an additional stroll down memory lane, Steel Curtain Rising has published an excellent recap of Woodson's best moments as a Steeler here.
Now, can we do something about getting Dick LeBeau's and Dermontti Dawson's busts into Canton?