Alameda, Calif. — Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson announced Monday he will retire following his 18th NFL season, ending a career that included a Heisman Trophy, a Super Bowl title and numerous other honors.
Woodson said he realized late last month that he couldn't play another season and wanted to announce his decision before playing his final home game Thursday night against San Diego.
"I felt it was only right that Raiders fans, my fans, fans that have watched me play for a long time, I'd let them all know that this Thursday night would be the last time in the Coliseum I would be able to run out there in front of our fans at home," Woodson said at a news conference.
Woodson is one of the most accomplished defensive backs to play the game, ranking fifth all-time with 65 interceptions and tied for first with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper with 13 defensive touchdowns.
He won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1998, AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and is a three-time, first-team All Pro selection.
He is still playing at a high level at age 39, despite dealing with a shoulder injury he sustained in the season opener and forced him out for a few plays Sunday after a hard hit on former teammate Randall Cobb.
Woodson came to Michigan in 1995 from Fremont, Ohio. He played three seasons and totaled 18 interceptions, 25 pass breakups, 120 tackles and 47 punt returns for 407 yards.
In 1997 he won the Heisman Trophy and Michigan won the national championship. That season he had one rushing TD, two receiving TD, one punt return TD, eight interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Woodson has played 965 defensive snaps this season and has five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, ranking second in the NFL with eight takeaways.
"It feels good," he said. "There are so many players who play this sport and other sports who would like to go out that way, playing well, doing what they love to do. I feel very good about the way I performed not only this year but my whole career."
Despite dealing with several injuries early in his career, Woodson has played the second-most games of any defensive back in NFL history with 252.
Only Hall of Famer Darrell Green has more with 295 and Woodson will join Green in the Hall in Canton, Ohio, soon.
Woodson said he decided the morning of the game at Detroit on Nov. 22, that this season would be it for him.
"Honestly, I think physically I could do it," he said. "My body has responded. But mentally, it's not there. It's not going to happen."