Defensive back Rod Woodson, who helped lead the Raiders to the 2003 Super Bowl, is among six inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Hall announced Jan. 31.
Joining Woodson in the Class of 2009 are Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Bob Hayes, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, Minnesota Vikings guard Randall McDaniel and Bills owner Ralph Wilson. Hayes, a Seniors Committee candidate, and Thomas were elected posthumously.
Induction is Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.
Woodson, right, played 17 seasons in the NFL ó from 1987 to 2003 ó with the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens and the Raiders. The former Purdue University All-America is the career leader in NFL interception returns for touchdowns with 12. His 1,483 interception return yards is a league record and his 71 interceptions rank third all-time.
"Itís a great honor, a great feat," Woodson, 42, said at a news conference in Tampa, Fla. on Jan. 31. "Iím still pinching myself a little bit, thinking itís surreal."
Woodson led the league in interceptions in 1999 with Baltimore and 2002 with Oakland and led in kickoff returns (27.3-yard average) with Pittsburgh in 1989. He was named 1993 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and made the leagueís 1990s All-Decade Team. The Fort Wayne, Indiana native won an NFL title with the Ravens in the 2000 season and played in Super Bowls with Pittsburgh and Oakland.
Woodson earned All-Pro honors as a cornerback, safety and kick returner. He was selected for in 11 Pro Bowls ó seven with the Steelers, three with the Ravens and one with the Raiders.
Playing safety, Woodson had a league-best eight interceptions during the 2002 season as the AFC champion Raiders advanced to their first Super Bowl since 1984.
"I donít think any of us started playing football because we wanted to be in the Hall of Fame," Woodson told reporters Jan. 31. "I started playing football because my brothers played."
Woodson is the first Raiders player chosen for the HOF since tackle Bob Brown was enshrined in 2004. According to the Raiders 2008 media guide, Woodson becomes the 16th Raiders players voted into the HOF. The list includes defensive back Ronnie Lott and wide receiver James Lofton, who spent two seasons with the then-L.A. Raiders and former Rams running back Eric Dickerson, who played one season with the Raiders.
For more information on the Class of 2009, please click Pro Football Hall of Fame