Woodson Accepts Commitment to Excellence Award

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Charles Woodson speaks after being presented the Commitment to Excellence Award

Charles Woodson added yet another award to his already impressive resume, as the Raiders safety accepted the 13th annual Commitment to Excellence Award Saturday at an awards dinner and presentation held the Hilton Oakland Airport.

The award is voted on by members of the team and presented by the Steering Committee for the Booster Clubs of the Oakland Raiders (SBCOR), and is awarded to a player who exemplifies the pride, poise and spirit of the Oakland Raiders.

"It means a lot," said Woodson before accepting the award. "It means people respect what you do and who you are. It means a great deal to me so I'm happy to be here."

The evening, which was emceed by JT The Brick, featured dinner, as well as both live and silent auctions, the proceeds of which will benefit the Charles Woodson Foundation.

As impressive of a career as Woodson has had on the football field, his tireless work off it is just as impressive.

Woodson donated $2 million to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital Thanksgiving Day 2009, and also donated $100,000 to the Red Cross in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.

The Michigan product's philanthropy didn't stop there, as he also donated $150,000 for academic scholarships to the University of Michigan for students with financial needs studying kinesiology.

This dedication both on and off the field truly separates Woodson and make him the ideal recipient for an award that recognizes an individual who truly personifies what it means to be a Raider.

Woodson finds himself in rare company, with Raiders legends such as Jerry Rice and Tim Brown also being former winners.

"They should have named it the Tim Brown Award, he's won it six times," Woodson joked. "All these guys are great guys, like I said, a lot of them I played with, and being mentioned with those guys who received this award, it means a lot. I feel like I'm joining another team, so I feel good about it."

In addition to Raiders Owner Mark Davis, General Manager Reggie McKenzie and recently-named team president Marc Badain, former teammate Napoleon Kaufman was also on hand to celebrate Woodson's big night.

Kaufman was a veteran running back when Woodson arrived in Oakland in 1998 and saw even then that the rookie possessed the attributes that would lead to his Hall of Fame career.

"Since I've known him, he's just had a passion for the game, and so when he came in his rookie year, you saw it," Kaufman said. "I had no idea it was going to last this long, but you just see it. He loves football. He's a football player."

Kaufman also believes that Woodson's life off the field is what makes him an ideal recipient for the Commitment to Excellence Award.

"You never hear of him having any problems, no news headlines that are negative," he said of Woodson. "He takes care of his business. He represents the organization with class and professionalism, and I think his resume speaks for itself."

General Manager Reggie McKenzie was on hand to show his support for Woodson and spoke of the events that led to him re-signing the future Hall of Famer.

"When I had a chance, the opportunity a couple of years ago to bring Charles back home to the Raiders, I jumped at the opportunity and did whatever we had to do to get it done," McKenzie. "Charles obliged and came down, and I asked Charles, let's turn this around together, and he came on board.

Following McKenzie's remarks, Woodson's friend, and Raiders legend, Willie Brown stepped to the podium to introduce the guest of honor.

"This is a special night for Charles," Brown said. "Charles is probably the only player I've ever seen play in the National Football League that could play nine different positions, corner, safety, nickel, wide receiver, tight end, running back, quarterback [and] punter."

He did joke though that he wouldn't necessarily trust Woodson with field goal responsibilities.

After Brown's introduction, a video highlighting Woodson's career was shown to the capacity crowd of 338, and at the conclusion of the retrospective, the 2015 Commitment to Excellence Award winner stepped to the podium and addressed Raider Nation.

"I really must be getting old, I almost started crying," Woodson joked. "This is great. This is unbelievable, especially the turnout. To come here and share the evening with myself and the Raiders organization, really does mean a lot, so I want you to know that I really appreciate that."

He went on to thank the Steering Committee, owner Mark Davis and the Raiders front office, as well as Raider Nation, and in particular his teammates for bestowing the award upon him.

Photos from the 13th Annual Commitment to Excellence Award Dinner, honoring safety Charles Woodson.

"It ranks up there with any award that you can possibly get, because your teammates see what you do day in and day out," Woodson said. "They see what you do every minute of the day for the most part. Those guys are the ones watching you every day, so I want to give a big thanks to my teammates for this award."

Woodson concluded his remarks by reading a passage from President Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 speech, "Citizenship in a Republic," entitled The Man in the Arena.

He concluded his speech and the evening by posing a question to the assembled crowd.

"People ask me, 18 years, why do I come back? Why do I play?"

He paused and said, "It's because it doesn't matter if I fail or not, at least I failed daring to be great."

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