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Charles Woodson Got Defensive With His 1997 Heisman Win and Brought the Wolverines' Third Stiff-Armed Trophy Back to Ann Arbor
Woodson Edges Tennessee's Peyton Manning
Michigan made Heisman Trophy history in 1997 when their star defensive back Charles Woodson became the third Wolverine to snag the coveted award. In an epic showdown, Woodson beat out Tennessee's football sensation Peyton Manning, becoming the first defensive player to win the bronze statue.
Woodson's journey to stardom was destined from the start. As Ohio's Mr. Football, his arrival in Ann Arbor had Wolverines fans buzzing. By his second game, he had already earned a starting position on his way to earning the Big 10 Freshman of the Year award. He was a true force to be reckoned with.
Michigan's championship-winning season helped Woodson's Heisman bid as he took center stage and generated headlines with his standout plays. The Wolverines' success brought the media spotlight, allowing Woodson to impress and cement his place in college football history.
Woodson 'Bucked' Ohio State for His Heisman Clincher
The showdown between Big Blue and Ohio State was a crucial moment for the team's defensive back, who secured his Heisman award with an outstanding performance. Woodson wowed Wolverine fans and Heisman experts with a touchdown punt return, an interception in the end zone, and a crucial 37-yard catch that set up Michigan's lone offensive touchdown of the game. These game-changing plays not only secured a 20-14 victory for Michigan but also propelled them to the highly coveted Rose Bowl. It was an electrifying moment that left no doubt about Woodson's deserved status as a Heisman winner.
Woodson's Heisman Stats
Charles Woodson is one of the few Heisman winners that earned his stripes on the defensive side of the ball. This makes comparing his 1997 statistics to other winners challenging. But one thing is undeniable: Woodson was a force to be reckoned with. He had 21 rushing yards, 238 receiving yards, and scored three offensive touchdowns. On special teams, he racked up 301 punt return yards and a touchdown. Defensively, he recorded 47 tackles, one sack, and eight interceptions.
From Big Blue to Canton
Woodson was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1998, and he quickly made a name for himself as one of the most dominant defensive players in the league. During his seven-year stint with the Raiders, he was a force to be reckoned with. He earned numerous accolades, including NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998, and was a First-team All-Pro four times, second-team All-Pro four times, and selected to the Pro Bowl nine times. Woodson's success in Oakland made him a fan favorite, and he was widely regarded as one of the best defensive backs in the league.
In 2006, Woodson signed with the Green Bay Packers, where he continued his success on the field. He helped the Packers win the Super Bowl XLV in 2010, a career highlight that would not have been possible without his incredible talent and leadership. During his seven-year stretch with the Packers, Woodson was a five-time Pro Bowler and earned First-team All-Pro honors twice.
Woodson returned to the Raiders in 2013, where he finished his career on a high note. He was still a dominant force on the field, and his love for the game was evident in every play that he made. In his final NFL season, he played in all 16 games and finished the season with 74 tackles, one sack, and one interception.
Woodson was also recognized for his achievements by his peers in the league. He was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, a significant honor for any player, and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, recognizing his contributions to the team's incredible success during his time there.
Moreover, Woodson's incredible achievements did not go unnoticed by those in charge of the NFL's most prestigious honor: the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2021, Woodson was inducted into the Hall, an incredible achievement and a testament to the impact he had on the league during his career.
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