Tearful Woodson addressed team at half
By ROB DEMOVSKY Green Bay (Wis.) Press-Gazette February 7, 2011 11:02AM
ARLINGTON, Texas - Charles Woodson stood in the center of the Green Bay Packers’ locker room inside Cowboys Stadium at halftime of Super Bowl XLV, his collarbone cracked in two only minutes earlier, and he wanted to deliver a message that would inspire his teammates.
He tried to speak, to give another one of those impassioned speeches he delivered throughout this postseason, but no words came out.
The Pro Bowl cornerback and the inspirational leader of this team broke down. He knew he couldn’t go back in the game, and his dream of a Super Bowl title was slipping away.
“I’m not really a crier, but man, that brought tears to my eyes,” Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop said. “Wood is my idol and to see your idol like that motivated me to go out there in the second half and lay it on the line. To see Wood like that, it did something to me. All the years that it took him to get here, to not be able to finish with us, that hurt. But a part of him was in me when I went back out on the field.”
With Woodson’s left arm in a sling and several other key players banged up, the Packers did what they have done all season. Injuries didn’t stop them from getting to the Super Bowl, so why would it stop them from beating the Pittsburgh Steelers to win it?
Without Woodson and without veteran receiver Donald Driver, who left in the first half with a badly sprained left ankle, and while cornerback Sam Shields (shoulder) and safety Nick Collins (cramps) had to sit for parts of the game, the Packers nonetheless persevered. On the way to their 31-25 victory that gave them their 13th NFL title, including their fourth Super Bowl, they overcame a bevy of injuries one more time.
“This game is just a microcosm of what the whole year has been,” Woodson said. “All year long guys have gone down - key guys, starters - and other guys have come in and not allowed the moment to be too big for them, just going in and performing and taking the coaching.”
While Woodson tried speak to the team at halftime, Driver was in the training room begging the team doctors to tape his ankle and let him return. But instead, he came out in a walking boot.
During the intermission, there were practical matters to attend to, and the lengthy Super Bowl halftime helped. Woodson, Collins and Shields all were hurt on the final series of the second quarter.
So defensive coordinator Dom Capers and his staff made the decision to ditch almost all of the man-to-man defense they played in the first half. Instead, Capers played almost exclusively zone in the second half to try to help cornerback Jarrett Bush and fellow backup cornerback Pat Lee.
Collins returned in the third quarter after taking intravenous fluids at halftime, and Shields returned after missing almost the entire third quarter, but his shoulder limited his ability to tackle.
The Steelers attacked the Packers at their weakness but didn’t prevail.
“It was very hard to watch,” Woodson said. “But not anymore.”