Packers' Woodson, Driver looking to cap careers
Green Bay is one of the youngest teams in the NFL with its starters averaging a shade over age 27. The Packers have the potential to be Super Bowl contenders for many years to come.
But for two veterans who will be competing in Super Bowl XLV against the Steelers two days from now, time is running out on winning that coveted world championship.
Defensive back Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver are two of the more decorated players in the NFL, but both have fallen short of claiming Super Bowl glory in their long playing careers.
Woodson, 34, played in Super Bowl XXXVII when he was with the Oakland Raiders, but he was on the wrong end of one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history. The Buccaneers beat the Raiders, 48-21.
It has taken Woodson eight years to get back.
He is in his 13th professional season, his fifth with the Packers after eight with the Raiders.
"You cherish every opportunity, but you understand you're closer to the end than the beginning," said Woodson, the 2009 NFL defensive player of the year. "You understand you have to get it done. You don't want to leave the game without having a championship. You want it because you understand that it is getting toward the end. You have to do it now."
Woodson played on some talented Oakland teams last decade.
The 2001 team made the playoffs, too. That was the year before the Super Bowl XXXVII appearance.
In a divisional round game at New England, the Raiders had the game in control until the infamous tuck rule came into play and allowed the Patriots to tie the score near the end of regulation and eventually win in overtime.
Woodson is the player who hit quarterback Tom Brady and forced an apparent fumble until it was overturned by officials after a replay review.
Had the Raiders won that game they would have advanced to the AFC championship game against the Steelers at Heinz Field. As it was, the Patriots beat the Steelers and then the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
"If I can win this game, I'll forget about that tuck rule game," said Woodson, who has 47 career interceptions and is a feared blitzer.
"I've thought about it of course. It was a tough day for Oakland. You just felt like that it wasn't the game that decided the game. It was an opinion and some tucked away rule, no pun intended, that they dug up and used against us. That was the hurtful part about it.
"It's neither here nor there at this point. If we get this one, I'll never talk about that game again."
Driver, who turned 35 Wednesday, has never played in a Super Bowl. He is in his 12th season, all with the Packers, and is competing in the postseason for the seventh time.
The closest Driver came to a Super Bowl was when the Packers played host to the NFC championship game against the Giants after the 2007 season. The Packers led that game at halftime, but lost in overtime.
"This is truly amazing and a dream come true," Driver said. "You get to the point where you want your ultimate goal. As a kid, you watch them on TV and you dream about it. So when it finally comes, you can't let it slip away. It is right here in front of me."
Driver is Green Bay's all-time leader in receptions (698) and is just 42 yards shy of becoming the franchise's all-time leader in receiving yards. James Lofton holds the record with 9,656 yards.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Driver has caught more than 50 passes in nine consecutive seasons and owns the team record for consecutive receptions with 133.
The only thing left to accomplish is that elusive Super Bowl title.
"It's going to get to the point where the emotions hit you when it's all said and done," Driver said. "I just hope when it's all said and done the confetti is falling down, and I'm holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"I've dreamed about since I was a kid. This is something you always dream about. When you play as long as I have played you think about wanting to get there sooner than later, but I'll take the later because I'm here now. I want to embrace every moment of it."
First Published February 4, 2011 12:00 am