PETER KING: You played your first eight seasons in Oakland. When you left for Green Bay in 2006, did you ever think you’d be back?
CHARLES WOODSON: Never. But when I was flying in for my [May free-agent] visit, the plane comes off the water into the Oakland airport, and then I get to the practice facility, and I see all the people—man, it’s like I never left. Like a reunion.
No Al [Davis]. No [ex-CEO] Amy Trask. No [clubhouse man] Run Run Jones. [Davis and Jones died. Trask resigned last spring.] But so many others I recognized—and Willie Brown. I have Willie Brown back. All you need is Willie. There’s the tradition of the Raiders right there.
KING: Will it be strange to take that drive up to Napa again, back to the Napa Marriott for another Raiders training camp?
WOODSON: I can’t wait to get to Napa. I’m excited just thinking about it right now. Honest. How many guys would ever say—especially at my age—they’re excited about going to training camp? But I can’t wait. Can’t wait to play football again.
KING: Speaking of your age, you’re 36. There wasn’t much interest out there for you in free agency. Did you think about doing what Brian Urlacher did—retire even though you felt you could play?
WOODSON: Well, you’re forced to think about it. But I didn’t want to retire yet. All I can say is, football is what I am. Football is who I am. If I didn’t feel I could do it, if I wasn’t 100 percent sure I could do it, believe me, I wouldn’t do it. There are so many reasons why I still love it. Love of the game for one; there’s nothing like it. The competition, the locker room, trying to achieve something together. I will never forget winning that Super Bowl with Green Bay despite all the injuries we had, and the guys on that defense saying to me, “Wood, we’re gonna get this for you.” That stuff, you never forget. And the game itself … running out of the tunnel 16 Sundays in the fall, hearing people chant your name at home and boo you on the road. The national anthem. People don’t talk about that much, but it means a lot to me. It’s emotional to work as hard as you do, and then the anthem plays, and you’re standing out there with your team, and you just can’t wait to play. You don’t want to give that up.