By Teresa Varley
Woodson Hall of Fame Speech
Former Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson was welcomed into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2009 on Saturday and it was an honor he humbly accepted and was quick to point out that he didn't get there without a lot of help along the way.
"I stand up here in front of you as an individual, but nothing great has ever been done alone," said Woodson. "We are all a part of a team in some capacity throughout our lives. We are all a piece of the puzzle; we are not the puzzle itself. When we realize that we are better people. I am here today to thank all of the people who sacrificed of themselves to put me here."
Woodson, who was introduced by lifelong friend Tracy Foster, started off by thanking his parents James and Linda, and his brothers Joe and Jamie. He thanked those who helped his football career, starting with youth football, through high school and college.
The loudest cheers, though, came when Woodson started to talk about his days with the Steelers, from the time he was drafted in 1987, starting a 10-year career in the black and gold.
"I get a phone call, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Rooney family," said Woodson. "I just want to say thank you to the Rooney family. Great, great family, they are arguably the best sporting franchise in all of sports because of the family. I want to say thank you for giving me 10 wonderful years there.
"To the Steelers Nation, thank you for accepting me and cheering me on and after I left, for booing me. I am serious for booing me. If you cheered me when I put on a Raiders or Ravens uniform, I would have lost a little respect for the Steelers Nation. I am glad you booed me, because you should.
"I spent 10 years there and had some wonderful coaches, Chuck Noll and Tony Dungy. Tony Dungy I think will be a Hall of Fame coach. A guy named Rod Rust, a defensive genius. He set me aside and challenged me as a player to learn more, to be more.
"Five years went by and Chuck Noll and his staff left and I got the new group with Bill Cowher.
Thank you to Bill…in 1995 they talked about me coming back after the ACL injury. It never would have happened if Bill would not have left a spot open for me. He gave me a great opportunity to play in the Super Bowl in 95, even though we lost I say thank you to Bill Cowher.
"Dick LeBeau…I hope the voters get it right. He belongs in as a player, that is the first thing. If you don't put him in as a player, put him in as a contributor. He did so much for the National Football League as a player and a coach, He deserves it. The voters will get tired of hearing me talk about Dick LeBeau and putting him in the Hall of Fame."
Woodson went on to talk about the teams he played with after leaving the Steelers, including the San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and Oakland Raiders.
Woodson, who now works for the NFL Network, recalled how he started out there five years ago and how much he has grown over the years.
"My first years I was pretty bad," said Woodson. "I remember my kids going to YouTube, I hate YouTube, I can't stand that thing. They said the worst stuttering studio analysts in pro football. I was trying to say Steinbeck and couldn't get it out and was stuttering and they kept playing it over and over like a music video."
Woodson then thanked those closest to him, his wife Nikki and five children, who were all wearing jerseys or shirts from the teams that Woodson played for.