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Charles Woodson preps for finale to 18-year career


Charles Woodson will end his career where it began.

The 39-year-old Pro Bowl safety will play his final NFL contest Sunday when the Oakland Raiders visit the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, the same location as his first NFL game in Week 1 of 1998.

Woodson penned a farewell column for detailing the final installment of his NFL journey.

Every game, all season

"It would be easy to be distracted this week, but there's a saying I learned a long time ago. It says: "You've got to keep the main thing the main thing." The main thing, for me, is to go out and play the game," Woodson wrote. "That means you've got to keep your routine. You've got to do all of the things that got you to this point, and you have to do them the same way. Just because it's your last game, or last home game, the game itself isn't going to change so you can't change.

"After the season is over, things will change for me as a person, as a man; it will be different because I won't be an NFL player anymore. But for this game and the last home game a week ago, I still have to play the game. That's why I'm able to focus on the task at hand, because this is what I do, this is what I've been doing all my life. I know how to separate outside things from my preparation so I'm able to play the game."

While Baltimore Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. reversed gears on his retirement plans this week, Woodson said Sunday will be his last NFL game ever.

"I heard it from everybody: 'Hey, man. You see that Steve is coming back? Go ahead, now it's your turn to come back.' But I told them that there's no coming back for me. I can understand Steve. He announced early on that he was done, and he was having a great year and then he had the Achilles injury and probably feels like he wasn't able to write the script the way that he wanted to," Woodson wrote. "So he would rather give it another go than have it end like that. For me, it's not that way. There's no second-guessing or going back. I was able to play the entire year, even though I had some injuries."

Woodson discussed what it was like to compete in the NFL for 18 seasons and composed another column detailing his greatest NFL moments and toughest competition (hint: Marvin Harrison).

It is kismet that Woodson, a lock for the Hall of Fame, will go out on the same field he began his gold-jacket career. This time he hopes the score will be different -- the Chiefs won in 1998, 28-8, while Woodson had seven tackles and one forced fumble.


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