Q: As you were making the trip out here, had you gotten wind in any way that the fans had mobilized on Facebook and Twitter and were planning that kind of welcome?
Woodson: Yeah, I had gotten word that they were going to do it. I didn’t know if it was a fact that it was going to be done. But, yeah, I got word that it was going to happen.
Q: What was your impression of just driving in and the whole experience?
Woodson: I’ll tell you man, it was overwhelming. I think that if at any time I’d ever forgotten what the love was like in Oakland, I was definitely reminded yesterday.
Q: How much of a factor would you say that gathering of the fans had and their support on social media and whatnot played a part in you signing back with the Raiders?
Woodson: I think it played a big part. I think that I was actually scared of leaving the facility to not having a deal done. I don’t know if I would have made it out of there. But that was a big deal. Receiving that kind of welcome, it definitely put me in a mindset that it would be a good decision to make it happen.
Q: You talked earlier this off-season about possibly wanting to play for a Super Bowl contender. The Raiders are obviously coming off a four-win season. What attracted you in the end to coming to the Raiders? I know you talked to some other teams, including Denver.
Woodson: That was definitely my sentiment going into free agency is that I wanted to go and finish up somewhere that was on the verge. Certainly a couple of teams that brought me in, San Francisco and Denver, those are obviously two teams that have that chance. Those two places didn’t work out. Just as the process kind of rolled on, I knew I wanted to play football, regardless really of where I played. At that point, I had to figure out what I wanted to do and playing football is what I wanted to do. It was going to be somewhere if it was a team that wasn’t quite there, but still is a team that is looking on the up, then I was going to do it. And I feel like the Raiders are a team that is looking on the up.
Q: Did they have to kind of sell you on that idea that they were coming on the up so to speak or did you have a background with Reggie McKenzie? What role did that play?
Woodson: That definitely plays a role because we’re familiar with each other. But after talking to Reggie, I got a good feel of how he feels about the team and that just really gave me confidence that they’re going in the right direction. Going into the facility yesterday, I felt good about where things stood and if I signed, I was going to be going to a team that has good players on the team. Playing the game is about fundamentals and playing good football and they have some good players and if we can put it together, then we’ll win games.
Q: Can you talk about maybe the process that you had to go through with the Denver Broncos and also what kind of role did they want you to fulfill if you were to sign with Denver?
Woodson: Typical free agent stuff. You go in and you meet and you talk. The meeting went really well with the coaches and I think we pretty much hit it off, but there is always, of course, the business side of it that sometimes comes up short. So, it didn’t work out. This situation did, and so here I am, an Oakland Raider again.
Q: I know you were only in the building for an afternoon yesterday, but could you already tell a difference just in the vibe from the last time you were in there in 2005 with Mr. [Al] Davis still running the organization and everything to what it’s like in there now?
Woodson: Yeah, I think so. I think having Reggie in there and having somebody that is really in that decision-making role other than Mr. Al Davis is definitely a different vibe. It seems like there’s more of a control factor as far as what they’re able to do and what they want to implement as far as their team is concerned. So I think it’s a good vibe in there.
Q: When you left here, a Pro Bowl player four times, but you winded up leaving in free agency and going to Green Bay. Your career was good here, but it was great in Green Bay. What do you think were the causes for your ascension and sort of taking your career to the next level?
Woodson: I think that really towards the end of Oakland, there was some injuries that kind of kept me off the field. And then I think that team-wise, we weren’t a very good team. I think people just look at you as an individual and say, ‘if the team’s bad, you’re bad.’ But I definitely didn’t play bad football my last years. I actually played pretty good football. But going into Green Bay was just a fresh start and was able to stay on the field and just go out there and do my thing. And I had opportunities. When I got over there, quarterbacks were testing me a lot more than they had at any time in my career and it gave me ample amount of opportunity to get the ball. So I was able to get my hands on a lot of balls, make a lot of interceptions. And then people started to notice again what kind of player I was.
Q: Was signing here sort of a vote of confidence in
Woodson: I think the vote of confidence comes from the coaching staff. They brought him in here. Reggie brought him in here feeling that he was going to be a big piece to it. My main concern is playing on the defensive side. The offense will take care of itself. I want to be part of a defense that is going to be a dominant defense, a defense that goes out there and keeps us in games. I’m excited about that aspect of it and getting with a bunch of guys that are ready to fly to the football.
Q: You’ve always been known as being one of the best short tacklers in the NFL; what are you bringing to the table to the Raiders now that you’re coming back to Oakland?
Woodson: I’m just going to bring intensity. I’m a football player. I’m just going to bring a lot of intensity, somebody that is passionate about the game and a guy that knows how to make plays. That’s what I’m going to bring. I think when guys watch me play, I think that raises the level of other guys because of the way I play the game. So I’m going to bring that mindset, that mentality, to the game, same as I always have, and have fun doing it.
Q: When you were here in 2002, they brought Rod Woodson in who was about the same age that you are now and he had moved to safety and he had one of the best years of his career. Could you foresee that happening to you? Do you still think you have that kind of season in you?
Woodson: I plan on that happening. I wouldn’t be out there trying to continue to play if I didn’t think it was going to happen. I would have just retired if I thought I couldn’t go out there and be the best player on the field. I’m coming in there with the mind frame, like I just said, I’m going to be the best player on the field. That’s how I feel.
Q: Is the collarbone healthy?
Woodson: Collarbone is great.
Q: Are you a safety now or can you still play cornerback? What’s your view as far as your position right now?
Woodson: Position right now will probably be the same as it was last year, come in and play the safety role. I know they have some guys they brought in at the corner position, [Mike] Jenkins, [Tracy] Porter, and a young kid [DJ] Hayden, so their corner position looks to be pretty solidified. So I’ll play my role in the backend and try to roam around that field and make plays.
Q: Speaking of those cornerbacks, you talk to Porter yet about that No. 24?
Woodson: No. We’ll definitely have to have that conversation though. We haven’t had it yet, but I don’t know…Raider Nation has me back, but I don’t if they’ll have me back without the 24 on my back.
Q: What type of role if any did your wine business being up in Napa have in these discussions or any role whatsoever in your decision?
Woodson: Zero. This was all about football. This was all about continuing my football career and having an opportunity to go out there and help a team win. That was bottom line for me.
Q: How much more of a role do you play now than you used to in mentoring younger plays and bringing younger players along and that sort of thing?
Woodson: I’ll do my part. I try not to step on any coach’s toes as far as what I’m telling the young guys or what I’m trying to give them. But I know guys will ask questions and I’m always going to be there to answer those questions and whatever I can do, whatever input I can give those guys, that’s definitely what I’m going to do. If I can be a help to them, and it’s going to help us win ultimately, I have to do it.
Q: How many people when you went into that building did you see that you still knew? Seabass [
Woodson: Seabass is the only player, but there were plenty of people that I still knew – equipment guys, film guys, Willie Brown of course. It was great; it’d been awhile since I’d seen Willie Brown. He’s one of my favorite people ever. It was great to see him and give him a big hug. We always joke about who the real 24 is. So it was good to have that back and forth with him. And get the deal done and then call him and say, ‘Willie Brown, I’m coming back. The real 2-4 is coming back.’ It felt good to be in that building. I was familiar with some people in there and it felt good.
Q: Was there any talk about a role with the team after your playing days are over?
Woodson: I haven’t thought about that. I haven’t discussed that with anybody. Right now, I’m just focused on learning what I need to learn as far as different terminology and understanding the defense and the way it’s played and getting in and helping this team develop.