NFL

NFL AM: Raiders Win Charles Woodson’s Final Home Game In Overtime

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Raiders win Charles Woodson’s home finale in overtime:

Thursday night, Charles Woodson played his final game in front of the Black Hole in Oakland. The 18-year veteran defensive back continues to play at a high level, but announced last week that this season will be his last in the NFL.

The Raiders tried to pull off what would have been an absolute Christmas miracle as just minutes after midnight in the east, the team brought Woodson into the game on offense in overtime, but it wasn’t to be as he wasn’t able to make much happen.

Oakland settled for a 31-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal to go ahead 23-20 with just over eight minutes left in overtime.

The Raiders held on allowing Woodson to win his final game at home as an Oakland Raider, which is a fitting end for the safety who was drafted by Oakland back in 1998. The one time Raiders and Green Bay Packers cornerback turned Packers and Raiders safety addressed the crowd following the game asking for one more chant of “Raiders.”

From Heisman Trophy winner to Super Bowl Champion, Woodson has accomplished just about anything a football player could hope to accomplish. That is, everything except the gold jacket awarded to members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After 18 seasons and over 250 games, the Raiders and Packers star pulled in an unbelievable 65 interceptions while scoring 11 touchdowns, making him about as sure-fire a first-ballot Hall of Famer as anyone in recent history.

After 14 seasons as one of the best cornerbacks the NFL had ever seen, an aging Woodson made the transition to safety, and made the transition as smoothly as any defensive back that preceded him. Woodson will join Rod Woodson and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee Aeneas Williams as some of the best corner/safety combos in the history of the game.

Alex Mack hints at opting out of Cleveland:

The Cleveland Browns have as passionate and loyal a fan base as you’ll find in the NFL, but eventually the losing that goes on in Cleveland begins to wear on a player who wears Browns’ Orange for too long.

This may be becoming the case for Browns’ center Alex Mack, who made some comments to Cleveland media this week that suggest he could be on his way out of town.

Mack has the ability to void the final three seasons of a deal he signed before 2014, and the amount of change that could be coming to Cleveland this offseason might not be appealing to the seventh-year center.

Mack spoke to the Cleveland media Thursday and talked about how much he appreciates playing with the guys around him.

I really like the guys I play with,” Mack explained. “The other guys on the o-line are great people. They’re awesome friends and really good teammates. Like I said, I owe a lot of thanks to them for helping me be a good player.”

The question is, who would be around Mack if he decided to play out his contract with the Browns?

All-world left tackle Joe Thomas was dangled as trade bait this season, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to re-visit the opportunity to add draft picks to a roster that is still being rebuilt, and will likely see a lot of change again if Mike Pettine isn’t retained as head coach.

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is an unrestricted free agent, and could find his way out of town with a fresh new contract and situation as well.

Mack’s most telling words came when he spoke about something that is a major priority for him. The seven-year pro who has spent his whole career in Cleveland, wants to win.

“I will say that winning is really important to me,” the Browns Pro Bowl center admitted, hinting that he could be on his way out of town, and an opportunity to play for a playoff contender may be the reason why.

This will likely be Mack’s last contract, and you can’t blame him if he wants to try to finish off his career somewhere where he’ll experience some winning, and you also can’t blame him if he has trouble believing Cleveland will be that place.

Drew Brees says he’s playing Sunday:

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has a torn plantar fascia in is foot. You know, the same injury that’s keeping Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning out.

However, despite the fact that Brees and the Saints have nothing to play for the final two weeks of the season, the veteran quarterback says he’s going to play Sunday when the team hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars.

I’m gonna play,” Brees said via Katherine Terrell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

“I want to play for my guys. Bottom line,” Brees said.

The Saints play Jacksonville at the Mercedes Benz Super Dome before finishing up in Atlanta Week 17. It would seem that the Saints veteran quarterback would have nothing left to play for in the final two weeks, but one has to wonder if part of him believes this could be the end of his career in New Orleans.

The Saints are a bad football team in the middle of a rebuild, and there’s been some speculation that New Orleans could consider trading their head coach Sean Payton or allowing him to walk in order to go in a new direction.

Brees is a huge part of Saints history. He might mean more to the city than Archie Manning. Drew and his teammates, who brought a championship to New Orleans in the years following Hurricane Katrina, will always hold a special place in the Saints and in the city’s history, but none of that changes the fact that he isn’t the future.

By the time the New Orleans roster is ready to win, it may be too late for their veteran quarterback. This offseason could be the end of the line for Brees and the Saints, and it would be no surprise if that’s the reason the veteran quarterback is forcing himself on the field during a time it would seem almost unreasonable otherwise.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.