Oakland Raiders: How Willie Brown and Charles Woodson Made the No. 24 Legendary

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It's a striking coincidence when two of the best players in franchise history play the same position. It's even more shocking when those two players wear the same number.

Separated by three decades, Charles Woodson and Willie Brown have became two of the finest cornerbacks in NFL history. They've solidified the No. 24 to represent hard-hitting, smooth-playing defense with the uncanny ability to get their hands on the football.

And they've done so donning the silver and black that late owner Al Davis patented so well.

Both enjoyed success for other teams, both won a Super Bowl, both were loved by Davis, both wore the No. 24, and both are regarded as two of the greatest to ever play cornerback in the NFL.

Willie Brown

Joined Raiders: 1967 via trade from Denver Broncos

Played for Raiders: 1967-1978

As part of the famous "Soul Patrol" with George Atkinson, Skip Thomas and Jack Tatum, Willie Brown was one of the most talented and feared cornerbacks in the league while playing for the Oakland Raiders.

Brown compiled 54 interceptions in 16 years in the AFL/NFL for both the Broncos and the Raiders, but enjoyed the bulk of his success while wearing the silver and black.

He was a master of the bump-and-run coverage, daring quarterbacks to throw the ball his way. When they did, Brown was there to either knock it down or pick it off.

His 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI helped seal the deal for the Raiders as they won their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

"Old Man Willie" was enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1984. He helped pave the way for another cornerback to wear the No. 24, and his legacy will forever live on within the Raider organization.

Charles Woodson

Joined Raiders: No. 4 overall pick in 1998 NFL Draft

Played for Raiders: 1998-2005, 2013-present

Al Davis decided to draft Charles Woodson No. 4 overall in the 1998 NFL draft, after a highly-touted college career at Michigan where he remains the only defensive player to win the Heisman trophy.

The draft was loaded that year. Peyton Manning was the No. 1 overall pick and cornerback Charles Woodson started his future Hall of Fame career as an Oakland Raider.

Davis had a myriad of players to choose from with the No. 4 pick. Randy Moss, Fred Taylor and Takeo Spikes are just a few to name, but he decided to take Woodson instead.

It was a decision that proved to be great.

Woodson had five interceptions during his first year in Oakland and won Rookie of the Year as well. His immediate impact on the team resonated a sense of deja vu with Raider fans of the good ol' days as they witnessed a striking resemblance between Woodson and the great Willie Brown.

Woodson also had a great relationship with Davis, though financial differences forced him out of town after the 2005 season. But differences aside, Woodson felt a love for Davis, a man who knew talent when he saw it.

"Really the only difference is the big guy's not here," Woodson said upon his return to Oakland in May, via silverandblackpride.com. "Knowing that you're not going to see him come out onto the field at any point in time this season is really the different feel to this organization."

Woodson has 56 career interceptions, just two more than Brown did in his Hall of Fame Career. Brown even said that Woodson was "one of his favorite players to coach," via raiders.com

Regardless of the times in which they played, both Brown and Woodson were damn good football players. The way in which they played the game, with toughness, determination and heart are just a few of the reasons why they are two of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history.

In Oakland, the No. 24 caries a stigma of success, and it's all because of Willie Brown and Charles Woodson. Although both men spent years with other organizations, the mantra of "once a Raider, always a Raider," lives on within them.

Steven Slivka covers the Oakland Raiders for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @StevenSlivka

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