Rod Woodson is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, though they weren’t the only team that he ever played for. After a year with the San Francisco 49ers, he had an opportunity to come back to the division and got to win a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens before finishing up his career with the Oakland Raiders.
In all, he spent seven seasons playing in the NFL after he left Pittsburgh, with whom he played for a decade. And he continued to perform at a Pro Bowl level consistently until late in his career. He even led the league in interceptions in his penultimate season.
But in spite of the fact that he spent so much time, and had so much success, with other teams, he recently told the Steelers’ website that he still considers himself a Steeler, and the team felt mutually. Dan Rooney once said that one of his biggest regrets in the game was allowing Woodson to leave.
And it was the ownership that he told the team’s website he loved the most. “The one thing that didn’t change and never changed while I was there was the ownership”, he said. “The Rooney family, it was all about family. How they treated you, how they took care of you and your family, your immediate family and sometimes your long-lost kin that would show up”.
Woodson described the Rooneys’ presence as a mainstay that “made it easy to enjoy playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers and being in the community and being in that environment”. The Rooneys are in their third generation of ownership now, going from Art Rooney to his son, Dan, to his son, and current majority owner, Art Rooney II.
“I still see myself as a Steeler, wearing the black and gold”, the Hall of Fame cornerback told the website. “I wore black and gold when I was in high school. My college was black and gold, then I spent 10 years in black and gold with the Steelers. It is a part of who I am. It’s the same colors I’ve been wearing since I was 14 years old until I left Pittsburgh”.
In spite of the fact that he has lived in California for a while now—finishing his career with Oakland and then spending multiple stints as an assistant coach with the team—he said that it is still mostly Steelers fans who come up to him.
“You realize that if you wear black and gold, because I think that’s the only city that their NFL, baseball, and hockey team all have the same colors, so if you wear black and gold, you’re part of the family. You’re part of the community”.
I’m sure there were a number of Steelers fans at the time who hated to see him in purple and even rooted against him, but I don’t know of any personally who don’t embrace him now. Especially as he embraces his legacy with the team, even announcing one of their picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.