COMMENTARY | Love them or hate them, Raider Nation is one of the most passionate fan bases in the world. Now, their strength in numbers has helped to lure one of the finest Raiders to ever wear the silver and black back in town.
The Raiders have had numerous Hall of Famers wear the shield with honor and dignity, and Charles Woodson is no exception.
From the time the Raiders drafted him No.4 overall in 1998 to his departure from Oakland in 2005, Woodson was one of the most talented and beloved Raiders of his day.
Now, with a huge help from the fans who gathered outside the team's facility in Alameda when Woodson arrived on Tuesday for his meeting with general manager Reggie McKenzie, the former Heisman Trophy winner is coming back to Oakland.
With the announcement of his free agent meeting being spread through social media, over 100 fans awaited to see Woodson's arrival, wearing their No. 24 jerseys and chanting his name as he walked into one of the most exciting environments the Raiders have had in a long time.
Woodson's return to Oakland is more than just a future Hall of Famer coming back to the place where it all started for him. It's a desperate rejuvenation to a proud, dedicated and colorful fan base that has searched high and low for success for the last decade.
It speaks volume to Raider Nation gathering outside the team's facility several hours before Woodson's arrival just to show him the love he always had in Oakland.
And it worked.
"I think I was actually scared of leaving the facility and not having a deal done," he said after leaving the meeting with an inked deal, via NFL.com. "I don't know if I would have made it out of there. But that was a big deal, and receiving that kind of welcome, it definitely put me in a mindset that it would be a good decision to make it happen."
Everybody who's associated with the Raiders comes out of this deal a winner, most notably the fans.
Raider Nation has suffered through hard times for the last 10 seasons, constantly waiting for an answer to their problems for far too long.
At 36, Woodson won't be the player he once was when he roamed the Oakland secondary years ago. He's 16 years removed from his Heisman Trophy days at Michigan, but the man can still play.
Most importantly, he brings years of unquestioned leadership, Super Bowl experience, and a much-needed spark to a fan base that has been forced to deal with the brutal hardships of the last decade.
McKenzie has done a solid job by replacing the bloated contracts left behind by Al Davis with bargained deals on NFL veterans.
Though Woodson's one-year contract is worth up to $4.3 million, McKenzie knows that he's paying for more than just another player to improve his secondary.
He's getting a man who knows what it takes to play in Oakland. But most importantly, he's getting a player who is loved by an optimistic fan base that's hungrier than ever to return to the glory days.
In typical Raider fashion, Woodson concluded his interview for raiders.com with a smile and a simple message: "Just Win Baby."
Steven Slivka is a Freelance Writer for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka.
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