Charles Woodson’s final Raiders play is the Heisman

The Heisman pass is the newest play to hit the NFL.

A double lateral flea-flicker, with the left receiver swinging over to make the final decision: run or pass.

It was run by the Raiders in overtime versus the Chargers on Christmas Eve, designed to work defensive back Charles Woodson in on one last special play.

Woodson’s farewell to Oakland could have been decided by a few things. A touchdown run, touchdown pass, or an interception — which would be ironic, considering his storied career as arguably the best defensive back in league history.

Woodson did the best thing, though, forgoing his shot at glory, and being a team guy. He ran it out of bounds so the Raiders could take a game-winning field goal after all his targets were covered up.

That’s what Woodson has done for 18 seasons. The smart thing. The tough thing. The move that helps win football games.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said:

“Charles is one of the greatest players to put on a uniform. He’s a great Raider. And to be able to send him out the right way, to be able to cap off a special evening like this. Our last home game this year, our last chance, 2015, to make a mark here at home. I’m just really proud of the effort.”

Woodson’s influence will last, as Del Rio said. His legacy will last in Oakland and with the Raiders just like the voice of late broadcaster Bill King or the flame of Al Davis.

Del Rio added:

“The lead that he has provided in terms of the way he prepares, the way he attacks his preparation, the way he trains his body, the way he takes care of himself. The respect he has for the game. I think those things stay with the organization for a number of years.”

The book on Woodson is a long one. He is one of only two players to have won a Heisman Trophy, Associated Press Rookie of the Year, Associated Press Player of the Year, and a Super Bowl in their career.

The other, naturally, was also a Raider, Marcus Allen.

Woodson is the only player in history to record 50 interceptions and 20 sacks, but his career totals up to his final game in Oakland is 65 interceptions and 20 sacks, with 155 passes defensed.

He scored on interceptions every year from 2006 until 2011, the only player in history to do that in six consecutive seasons.

His final Coliseum press conference included two of his sons, Charles Woodson Jr. and Chase Woodson.

The latter picked up the mic, a la Riley Curry, and said:

“The best player in the NFL is my daddy.”

He ain’t playing.

Even at 39 years old, and with one game left on the year, Woodson is tied at fourth in the league for interceptions, with five. He is the only player in league history to record two picks in a single game at his age, a feat he accomplished against the Broncos this October.

Woodson has cited a mental element for his retirement, saying that he still has it physically. That shows up on tape — he remains among the league’s best at an age where others who have only played a few seasons are having trouble walking up stairs.

Woodson said his final game in Oakland was special to him, his team and the fans:

“It’s like you know how when you have something really good to eat? It’s really good to you and you don’t want to eat it really quick so you take your time and you just nibble on it a little bit. That’s kind of how I felt. It’s going to be my last time running out here in the Coliseum, getting a chance to run out there in that smoke and so I just wanted to take my time and hear all the cheering and all the fans yelling. Man that was pretty special.”

Like barbecue ribs with perfectly cooked greens — turkey neck included — and a nice nap afterwards.

Added Raiders defensive back T.J. Carrie:

You really can’t fathom him not being here because he’s been here and the things he’s been able to do and achieve have been so great.”

The fact that the Raiders won made it a little sweeter, naturally, a loss would have been tough to stomach on the final home game. Defensive end Benson Mayowa said:

“G.O.A.T. That’s all we were preaching all week. Let’s do this one for Charles. Let’s make sure his last home game right here is a great one and I think we got that accomplished.”

With Woodson’s retirement, a generation of greatness ends. And so it goes.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.