6. Rod Woodson was the greatest Steeler of them all
One of the most awesome football players this fan has ever seen was Rod Woodson. Somehow Woodson could hide on the field, pretend to be covering some Browns receiver then suddenly break off the coverage and head for the ball wherever it was thrown, like a guided missile. He always knew in advance where the ball was going to go.
Woodson’s career spanned the Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher eras. In 1992 he had 100 tackles, an absurd number of tackles for a cornerback, and he collected six sacks. That’s pretty good for a defensive end but the guy played cornerback.
I used to yell at the TV, “Don’t even throw the ball on the same side of the field as Woodson, Bernie!” But it was no use. Just as Bernie Kosar couldn’t hear me, he couldn’t see Woodson until it was too late. It was as if Woodson could turn invisible, and then reappear at the last moment to blow up the play, bat down the ball or intercept the pass.
In fact, Woodson is an interesting contrast with Deion Sanders. Sanders was so intimidating that opposing coordinators would avoid throwing to their top receiver because they were so scared of him.
Hence Sanders never accumulated tackle statistics because he was a true shutdown cornerback. But somehow Cowher and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would disguise coverages so that they would get Woodson in position to make the tackle or play the run. They wanted Woodson to be out there as a tackling machine.
Plus Woodson was an incredible punt returner who killed the Browns on special teams. He played wide receiver and running back in college, and there is no doubt he could have made it at either of those positions if he had wanted to.
He was the first player in history to come back from ACL surgery and play in the same season, making an appearance in the Super Bowl. That was kind of freaky, especially because his knee seemed to be hyperextended when he walked around (sproing! sproing! sproing!). But there he was, and actually played a few snaps in the Super Bowl, and he was good.
Woodson was not a dirty player. He claims that he only threw one punch in his entire career. Webster Slaughter of the Browns drew that honor, according to an interview he gave with Rich Eisen. Web’s trash talk got the best of him.
Woodson would get this fan’s vote as the greatest Steeler ever, edging out Terry Bradshaw.