IRVING, Texas -- For Charles Woodson and the Green Bay Packers, the arrival to Super Bowl XLV wasn't nearly as grandiose as the announcement that they'd be coming.
And not just to Dallas, either -- all the way to Washington D.C.
"It was spur of the moment," Woodson said Monday as the Packers commenced their media commitments with their opening news conference at the Omni Mandalay-Las Colinas. "It was to have a little fun. I'm not surprised it got a little air time."
The All-Pro cornerback sent a message, first to his team, then to -- get this -- President Barack Obama in the postgame celebration following Green Bay's emotional road victory over the rival Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game. Woodson and the Packers took note of Obama vowing to attend the Super Bowl if his beloved Bears got there.
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They didn't, of course, prompting Woodson to let loose a fiery speech that surely will get some Internet hits this week (and probably some play in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers, too).
"Hey. It's time to think about one thing. One. For two weeks, think about one. One mind. Let's be one heartbeat. One person. One goal. One more game. One. Let's get it. ... And check this: the President don't wanna come watch us in the Super Bowl? ... That's right, that's right, that's right ...we'll go see him!"
And with that, came a chant.
"One-two-three -- WHITE HOUSE!"
And, yes, that was President Obama holding up an autographed No. 21 Woodson jersey on a trip through Wisconsin last week. Maybe the two will get a chance to talk about it face to face. First things first, though. A more meaningful and timely conversation awaits. If the Packers are to defeat the Steelers Sunday at Cowboys Stadium, Woodson will have his work cut out for him -- and not just dealing with Hines Ward or Mike Wallace.
Before Green Bay began its amazing run through the postseason -- three victories on the road after going 3-5 away from Lambeau Field during the regular season -- Woodson was voted one of six captains (two from offense, two from defense, two from special teams) for the playoffs.
Coach Mike McCarthy wanted one designated player to say a prayer before each game and another to deliver the pregame message.
"The last words before we leave the locker room are going to come from the players," McCarthy said Monday. "It's a players game."
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was chosen to lead the prayer.
Woodson got the send-off duties.
"The guys just kind of said, 'Charles, you do it,' and that was kind of the end of it," explained Woodson, whose designation was natural given his status as a former Heisman Trophy winner at Michigan, seven-time Pro Bowler, 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and one of the most revered veterans in the league. "I think the guys have a lot of respect for me, a lot of respect for my career and the way I play the game. You lead by example. At times, you need your leaders to speak, and so you do that. I'm fine with it. I'm comfortable with it."
That may not have been the case when Woodson last made it to the Super Bowl. That was eight years ago when he was a star in Oakland, but the Raiders were rocked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII at San Diego.
That Woodson was a very good player, but not a very responsible teammate.
"I was a little bit of a wild child," he said. "I enjoyed myself as a young man."
Though he made four Pro Bowls as a Raider, Woodson had a reputation for having a good time (and a record too, thanks to an alcohol-related arrest) and sometimes fell asleep in meetings as if to prove his point.
So there was a reason Green Bay was the only team that had any interested in Woodson when he hit the free-agent market in 2006 and signed a seven-year, $52.7 million contract.
"I think Charles, like a lot of us, both players and coaches, everybody has the opportunity to grow and opportunity to improve," McCarthy said. "He has stepped up big time."
So what's the difference between Woodson, the Raider, and Woodson, the Packer?
"Kids," said Woodson, now a father. "I'm older now and closer to the end (of my career) than to the beginning. Going once and not going again for (eight) years later -- whatever it is -- you understand how hard it is to get here and you understand there is no guarantee that you'll ever get back. I'm taking in every moment of it, man, and enjoying it."
Excelling at it, too.
Watch the game Sunday and try -- just try -- to figure out from where and when Woodson might be coming after Ben Roethlisberger. Woodson may be the most physical cornerback of his era and makes splash plays whether he's lining up at defensive back, linebacker or off the edge.
"He's just been awesome to watch," linebacker A.J. Hawk said.
Pretty awesome to listen to, also.
Woodson already has started gathering some thoughts for what he'll tell the team Sunday. He spent the flight from Green Bay watching "The Social Network," and then everything hit him when the charter came to a halt, and he saw all the cameras and a police escort lining the tarmac.
"I got some chills," he said.
Maybe some carefully chosen words will provide some for the Packers this weekend. After all, it's happened before.
Right, Mr. President?
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