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Damien Woody Calls It a Playing Career

Posted by Randy Lange on August 5, 2011 – 1:30 pm

It was good to see D-Wood back in the building today, but like many events at this time of the year, it was a bittersweet moment as well. Damien Woody, one of the good guys and one really good and versatile offensive lineman, was back here today to announce his retirement from the NFL.

“The game of football, man, has been a blessing,” said Woody, who shared the moment in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center with Nicole, his high school sweetheart and wife of 12 years. “I don’t even have words to describe what football has done for me in my life and her life.”

But of course Woody had many words today — he’d better, since he’s going into a new line of work as a broadcaster and analyst for ESPN as an NFL analyst.. And many of them were kind words toward the Jets, who put him to great use as their right tackle anchor for the last three of his dozen-year pro career.

“When I came over here, I had only played five games at tackle, just five games at the end of the season with the Detroit Lions. They took a chance on me and signed me to a big deal when I came over — that’s a big leap of faith right there,” he said. “Throughout my time here, they’ve really taken care of me and my family, from the top down, Woody Johnson, Eric Mangini when I first came in to Rex, Mike Tannenbaum. We have a great relationship. I’ve got the utmost respect for everybody in the building.”

Ryan, who often rode the Jets’ ground-and-pound running game — No. 1 in the NFL in yards gained in 2009-10 combined — off of Woody’s wide base, returned the favor.

“D-Wood’s a tremendous player, and I don’t know if people realize how competitive he is,” Ryan said in introducing Woody to reporters at the end of his daily news conference in the media room. “He’d get the tough assignments and never flinch. He’s one of the great centers in this game, a Pro Bowl center, a great tackle. You could fit him across the line anyplace you’d want.”

Now Woody will be fitting into TV and radio studios as a talking head for ESPN and ESPN New York Radio. In the spirit of that role he was asked to analyze a few things on the Jets — quarterback Mark Sanchez for starters. He gave a critical analysis of Sanchez, but most of it was a very positive critique.

“This team’s going to be a competitor for a while,” he said. “It has the nucleus in place. You can’t win without a quarterback, and they’ve got a quarterback. The guy’s the real deal. Obviously he’s in a tough market, everything he does is going to get scrutinized, but this guy’s the real deal. … What Mark needs to do is that whatever he’s doing in the playoffs, now he has to do it in the regular season. If he does that, the sky’s the limit for this team.”

Another opinion thread from Woody, who broke in as a radio host with Sirius XM NFL Radio last year, is on the nature of the “game” he was involved in. He wasn’t sure if he should use a certain word to describe his release by the Jets before the lockout, but he did anyway.

“Look, this is a business,” he said, “but everything was just done gracefully. Everybody was just reaching out to explain the situation. Everybody in this organization has just treated me well.”

Ryan echoed some of those sentiments when he was asked about this eternally tough part of the game and of losing people from his locker room every year.

“I don’t think concern is the appropriate word,” he said of some recent events, such as Jerricho Cotchery’s release, Shaun Ellis’ possible departure, and Woody’s retirement. “Obviously I recognize the leadership these men brought to our team, there’s no question about it. We have other leaders here as well. One thing about this is this is the Jets family. We’re a team.

“This is the league, this is what we’re in now. Sometimes you can’t keep everybody. Sometimes guys are moving on to bigger paydays, sometimes they choose to leave, sometimes it’s time for them to leave. These are the cold, hard facts. But I believe in every one of the guys who come into this building. We believe in them. We also also want to be world champions. That’s not just lip service. We’re trying to do it.

“There’s a lot of guys I’d love to have back, but that’s not the way it is.”

Yet every once in a while, during a break in the activity toward building that team to compete for the world championship, teams and players get to come back and embrace one more time before moving off on separate paths.

“I didn’t really want to see Damien go,” said Brandon Moore, Woody’s next-door neighbor at right guard. “But in talking to him this offseason, this was something he was considering. He had a hell of a career, and picked it up even more at the end when he came here. It was a pleasure to play with him, with a guy of that caliber. You don’t get that opportunity a lot during your career.  I know he’ll be successful in whatever he chooses to do after this.”

“He’s always got that smile on his face,” said Ryan, “and he’s a guy who’s going to be involved in this game a long, long time.”

“You never know. You never expect this day to happen,” Woody said. “But one thing I say is I’m really looking forward to life after football, especially my body.

“This is a great day.”

Say hallelujah one last time for Damien Woody.

The On-Field Résumé

Woody played in 173 games in his 12 NFL regular seasons with 166 starts, and added eight more games and starts for four playoff teams, including the Jets’ two PO teams and one start in Super Bowl XXXVI for the Patriots.

At one time, in 2007, he was the only active player who had made at least five starts at center, guard and tackle each. Here’s how his versatility shook out in starts by position:

Left guard — 14 starts in all games, 13 starts in regular season

Center — 63 / 60

Right guard — 43 / 43

Right tackle — 54 / 50

One other note on Woody: In his 49 Jets games, he was hit with a few false starts, but he had only one holding penalty marked off against him, and none in his last 47 Jets games.

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Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Damien Woody Calls It a Playing Career”

  1. By WALT on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    Just a thought but do you think that when a player asks to be released that he should have to pay back his up front bonus money.I think it is only fair since the player received the bonus with the understanding that he would keep his contractual obligations.It is beginning to look to me that the case with J Co has to do with contract envy.that is his contract verses Holmes.

  2. By Bobby on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    That kind of read like a eulogy lol. I’m gonna miss D Wood but Hunter looked sharp at the end of the year. We will be ok.

  3. By jack on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    Ira, How has kyle wilson looked so far in camp? and joe mcknight?

  4. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    I think you’re on target with all those points, Walt.

  5. By Ray on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    Not to add to the fire with BE, but just read the terms of his deal, it isn’t even close to $3.5 mil… He gets $1 million, if he has an average season, like he had with us last year it jumps to $2 mil and if he gets 90+ receptions or goes to the Pro Bowl (Good Luck on either of those things happening!!) THEN it goes to $3.5 mil….WOW!! I don’t know if Alex Smith can get him the ball, plus he might be suspended for 4 games? My guess is he is playing for $1 mil this year… quite a drop from $10mil/per!

  6. By Tom Spicer on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    This team is worse than last years team & if youy think it isnt please tell me how it is better. No Braylon, no Cotchery, no Ellis, no Taylor, no Smith, no Ihedegbo & no Coleman. Who did we replace these guys with? Has beens, never were’s & mabye one day could be good thats who. Our WR’S are worse, (unless wilkerson & Ellis do well) ourd line is worse, our linebackers are worse & our secondary is worse.

  7. By IRA on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    Not a knock on Wilson just hasn’t caught my eyes. Lots of players on the field at one time. McKnight has looked good except for his two dropped passes in yesterdays practice. Strickland made some nice plays yesterday.
    Best wishes to Woody i am sure he will be a huge success on ESPN.
    Randy, That holding penalty stat you put about Woody i would say its safe to say that the least amount by any OL in those amount of games?

  8. By Randy Lange on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    Ira, that’s the longest stretch with one holding marked off that I can find since I’ve been charting individual penalties beginning in 1995. Just to clarify, Woody had two other holds called against him but both were declined.

  9. By scjoe on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    I hear ya Ray. As for the suspension. that is either going to happen or not happen no matter who he plays for. We have to throw that out. But to see what he signed for and what his replacement signed for here, it just makes no sense. No one knows what the dialogue was between he and the Jets FO. But you have to assume that they left the door open for him should he lower those ridicules demands he threw out there in the beginning. In football terms only, it was a mistake not to have him back here based on what he ultimately signed for in SF.

  10. By wayne on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    It is obvious since Braylon signed with San Fran that he had no intention of returning to Jets for anything other than a serious multi year contract and it is just as obvious that the Jets didn’t trust him enough to give him a multi year contract.Their doubts been justified..This situation with the wideouts is leading to a conclusion that I predicted long before now…I PREDICTED BRAYLON AND MOSS, I’LL CORRECT THAT TO PLAX/MOSS…I don’t blame J-Co. He’s put his body on line for this team and he gets shoved aside for every Tom Dick and Mason that come along….I think writing was on wall before he asked for his released. Rex was mooning over Mason so J-Co said u can have him. Get me outta here. Some want T.O. and not Moss. Wonder why? lol

  11. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    scjoe, why do you assume that Edwards was begging to come back for less money and we spent it on Plax? Just 2 DAYS AGO Edwards said he wanted 5 yrs/$25 mil! The guy obviously had to take whatever he could get last night from SF, which is almost nothing. Like Cimini says, do you really think he woulda walked back into the building and said okay, I was a little off at $10 mil p/yr long-term, I’ll take $1mil for 1 yr? Spicer, out of the guys you list a healthy J-Co and a non-suspended Edwards woulda been great, but neither of those are apparently available. The other guys aren’t necessary, at least not if some of the young guys we have perform. And I’m sure Mr T isn’t done wheeling and dealing yet, it’s only been a week, relax.

  12. By scjoe on Aug 5, 2011 | Reply

    64, I am not assuming BE was “begging” to come back for less money. As I mentioned in my earlier post, no one knows exactly what the dialogue was between him and the Jets FO although I did hear Rex say he would love to have him back at the right price. What I am saying is after all is said and done the NY Jets paid a grand total of 500Gs more to sign a WR with more question marks then the one they had before who proved for almost two seasons what he could do. No one can deny that statement. Don’t you believe that the request for 5 years 25mil could have been 5yrs 20mil based on what transpired?

  13. By STEVE KENT on Aug 6, 2011 | Reply


  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 6, 2011 | Reply

    I agree we don’t know what the real dialogue between Edwards and the Jets was, scjoe. But two things seems clear: (1) BE vastly overvalued himself going into free agency, which cost him in the same way that you’re suggesting signing Plax may’ve cost the Jets, and (2) The guy is still not serious about staying out of trouble off the field.

  15. By PurpleFlash on Aug 7, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t get Braylon Edwards signing with SF for the deal he did. He DID overprice himself in Free Agency and he could’ve come back to the Jets for the right price. I was a big Braylon fan, but this was pretty much on him and not the team. As for Jericho Cotchery, He is looking to be a starter apparently and wanted a long term contract extension. What the heck was wrong with the contract he had with 2 more years left? He is not a young kid and coming back from back surgery. He, like Braylon, will find out that he is over-valuing himself at WR. If he ends up starting for somebody else, which I don’t think will happen, it won’t be for a SB Contender. What’s more important at his stage in his career, starting or winning a Superbowl?

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