When you are a Hall of Famer, you probably don't need to gain much more experience in the football ranks. But former Steelers and Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson is spending this week at the team's minicamp doing just that as he is continuing to pursue his coaching career.
Woodson, the Steelers' number one draft pick in 1987 who spent 17 seasons in the NFL, will also join the team in training camp in July working with the coaching staff to gain experience and share his knowledge of the game with players.
"It's a privilege to come here and be around Mike Tomlin, a guy who in the near future is going to be one of the better coaches ever to coach in this league, Dick LeBeau, who everyone knows how knowledgeable he is, and Carnell Lake, who has done a tremendous job with these young guys his first few years. It's great to be in this environment, a winning environment where I can learn a lot."
Woodson spent one season as secondary coach for the Oakland Raiders, a year that was marred by the death of owner Al Davis, as well as a disappointing 8-8 season that resulted in several defensive coaches, including Woodson, being let go.
"It was a great opportunity," said Woodson. "Unfortunately Mr. Davis passed away midway through the season. We didn't play the way we wanted to play down the stretch. We finished 8-8. The defense played sporadically throughout the year.
"But it was a great experience and gave me the learning curve of coaching. You have to look at the game differently. You have to be flexible, precise in what you are telling the young guys. Some of the older veterans have the way they like to do things, and great coaches allow them to bring their own uniqueness to the game."
When his playing career ended in 2003 Woodson was offered several coaching jobs, but at the time wasn't ready for the move and instead joined NFL Network as an analyst for Total Access.
"After spending 17 years as a player my mind was bogged down with it and I just wasn't ready," said Woodson. "I needed to get away from it to realize how much I appreciated it. The last several years I started getting itchy about getting into coaching and had a great opportunity with the Raiders."
Woodson began working with Dial Global Sports last season as a radio analyst for college broadcasts, and will be doing NFL broadcasts this season. And while he enjoys it, his dream is to be on the sidelines again and not just in the broadcast booth.
"I really like to coach," said Woodson. "That is what I want to do for my future. Hopefully I can keep building my resume and learn more from these guys.
"Coaching is the closest thing to competing. To be back here in this environment is great. I just love coaching. I just want an opportunity."