"2015 is going to be my last season playing in the NFL," Woodson said. "Was it a tough decision? Kind of in a way. But a couple weeks ago it hit me that this would be it. It's important for me to let Raider Nation know now."
After edging Peyton Manning out for the Heisman Trophy as a rare "two-way player" at the college level, the former Michigan star earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors as the defensive equivalent to fellow first-year phenom Randy Moss in 1998.
"When he learns more about technique," then-Rams receivers coach Al Saunders said at the time, "he has a chance to be one of the best to ever play the position."
Few defensive backs have compiled a stronger dossier than Woodson, who is sixth on the all time interceptions list with 65 and is tied for the most career defensive touchdowns with 13.
Although he was a bona fide star upon stepping foot in the NFL, Woodson is notable for authoring one of most accomplished post-30 careers we've seen from any defensive player.
It's incredible in hindsight that Woodson spent eight weeks on the free agent market in 2006 after breaking his leg during the 2005 season. At that point, it seemed inconceivable that he would eventually be regarded as a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Woodson is one of the few players ever to play in a Pro Bowl in three different decades (1990s, 2000s, 2010s). He's a veritable lock to return for his ninth career trip after a stellar Indian summer season that includes five interceptions, an NFL-high three fumble recoveries and the Defensive Player of the Month award for October.
Prior to Week 5, Woodson lamented that he never intercepted a pass from Manning -- the player who was drafted three slots higher in 1998. The 39-year-old safety proceeded to pick off a pair of passes from the 39-year-old quarterback in a defining performance.
"It's been an incredible career man," Woodson said Monday night. "It goes beyond words. You know I never intended on playing as long as I have. But it's the way that it has happened."