Rod Woodson will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame tomorrow as part of the Class of 2009, along with Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas. Woodson talked about his career and the honor of being inducted into the Hall with Teresa Varley.
Q. What is it like to be a Hall of Famer? Woodson: It's definitely an honor and a privilege to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I've looked at my life and thought about how long the National Football League has been around, really how long pro football has been going on, and to be inducted and be one of 200-some guys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I think it's amazing. I look at myself, this country boy from Indiana, and really it's hard for me to believe that I'm a Hall of Famer, to put myself in that category, it's definitely a privilege. The pinnacle of any professional football player's career is to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I'm definitely honored and humbled, and excited.
Q. Talk about the other guys that are in your Hall of Fame class: Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas. Woodson: I think it's a great class. Bruce Smith had the most sacks in NFL history, Randall McDaniels going to 12 straight Pro Bowls on the offensive line. Derrick Thomas, arguably if that tragedy didn't happen to him, he could've broken Bruce's record. That guy was a great pass rusher. Bullet Bob Hayes, a lot of people are saying it's long overdue for him to be in there. I just think it's a tremendous class athletically, but more that that I just think it's a tremendous honor to be inducted with such great men. I think they're all good men off the field, they've carried themselves in a way that is respectable to their families and the National Football League, so I'm honored they're just good people with whom I'm going in the Hall of Fame.
Q. What was the fondest memory during your time with the Steelers? Woodson: That is hard. There are so many. If I had to pick one it was playing in Super Bowl XXX. I f you look back at how good we were and talented we were as a team, to go to just one Super Bowl was disappointing as players. But playing in that one, it was exciting. It was bittersweet for me, but looking back at my 10 years in Pittsburgh playing in that game after all of the hard work we put in paid off. That is the one I really cherish.
Q. There are so many Steelers from the 1970s who won four Super Bowl titles who are in the Hall of Fame. Now you stand next to them. What is that like? Woodson: That's remarkable. When I first got to Pittsburgh guys like Mike Webster, Donnie Shell and John Stallworth were still there. We also had a Hall of Fame coach in Chuck Noll. I had the privilege to play with those guys for one year and under Chuck for five years. Three of the four are in the Hall of Fame. I think I'm the first guy to be inducted outside of those 1970s teams with the Steelers. It's a tremendous honor. We didn't win any Lombardi trophies for the team, but we had fun. It's a great honor because it's a storied franchise. You know how good they were and are, and to be a part of that is a tremendous honor.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about what this whole process has been like for you? Has it been more than what you expected, crazier, and who are some of the guys who got in touch with you when you were selected? Woodson: I've talked to a lot of guys. I guess when it started in February I got to reach out and talk to players I haven't talked to in 20 years or so, like Tyrone Stowe, the linebacker with the Steelers back in the day when I was there. And I haven't talked to him, in … it's been a long time. So to hear his voice, to talk to him, just to talk to a lot of the old high school and college buddies that I haven't talked to in a long time was amazing. I think we all favor the process, it's been a journey I'll never forget. It'll be a journey that my family will never forget.
Q. Can you compare and contrast your career and you style of play with Deion Sanders', who's also considered one of the best cornerbacks to play the game? Woodson: It's hard to compare. I don't like comparing players. I think Deion and I are similar in some aspects, but we're a lot different. Deion was flashier than I was, I think he was faster than I was, he was probably a better shut-down corner than I was. Did I consider myself an all-around defensive back? If I need to play corner, I'll go play corner. If I need to play safety, I'll go play safety. Whatever I had to do, I did. I think the similarities are that we took pride in working hard, we took pride in our craft, we took pride in when we stepped on the field that we're better than anyone else who was in front of us. I think the similarities go across the board with all the great players in the league, not just at the cornerback position but at every position. So I think we're similar in some aspects, but we're different also because of how we approached the game. But we were both effective at what we did.