Happy Birthday Rod Woodson

Steeler Nation would like to wish Rod Woodson a happy 53rd birthday.

Now I was born in 1995, so by the time I was even aware of anything, Woodson was in the later part of his career. What I will say is that when my mother was recruiting me to be a Steelers fan, one of the first players she brought up was Rod Woodson. His jersey was the only one we owned at the time, and it was certainly no coincidence.

Woodson was one of my mother’s favorite players, and why wouldn’t he be? Woodson was the embodiment of what it meant to be a Pittsburgh Steeler. He brought that steel curtain tenacity to the field every Sunday and elevated the play of the Steelers defense from 1987-1996.

The Steelers drafted Woodson with the 10th pick in the 1987 NFL draft, not knowing that number 26 would be in the nightmares of NFL quarterbacks for the next 17 seasons.

Woodson spent 10 years with Steelers, and would also go on to play for the 49ers, Ravens, and Raiders.

His best season with the Steelers would come in 1993, when he recorded eight interceptions, 28 passes defended, two forced fumbles, two sacks, a blocked field goal attempt and a team high 79 solo tackles, earning him the honor of being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The following year Woodson would be the youngest and only one of five active players to be named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team.

Throughout his career, Woodson was known for his versatility and his toughness. That toughness was put on display in the 1995 season when Woodson tore his ACL in the first game against the Detroit Lions, and would work his way back to play in the Super Bowl against the Cowboys, becoming the only player to ever have reconstructive knee surgery and come back in the same season.

Woodson was a true professional, being efficient at corner back, strong and free safety, as well as on special teams.

He was on the 1990’s All-Decade Team, and was an 11 time pro bowler, which is a record for a defensive back. He was also the first player to earn trips to the Pro Bowl at corner back, safety, and as a kick returner. Former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason said, “I could easily create an argument for him being the greatest defensive back of all-time.”

By the time it was all said and done, Woodson would be among NFL all-time leaders in games played as a defensive back with 238.

He holds the NFL record for interceptions returned for touchdowns with 12, is second all-time in interception return yards with 1,483, third most in interceptions with 71, 2,362 punt return yards, 17 touchdowns, and 1,049 tackles. 

For all of this and more, Rod Woodson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility. In 2016, Woodson was also inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

From Woodson’s first interception against Boomer Esiason in 1987, to his last against Daunte Culpepper in 2003, he left everything on the field, and although not all of his time in the NFL was spent with the Steelers, those of us who wave the Terrible Towel every weekend acknowledge not only what he did for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but for the game of football.

Happy Birthday Rod, thanks for changing the game.



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