Hey MGoBloggers, just got back from a really fun event at Sunda in Chicago, the Illinois launch of TwentyFour wines from Charles Woodson. He took pictures with everyone, chatted with people, and we all had 4 glasses of different wines from their label. A few notes follow:
He's just a really nice guy. He holds C.S. Mott as a special place (which we already know) but he truly seems touched by his experiences there when he was a player and afterward. The proceeds from dinner and from the silent auction are going to his foundation which is tied to C.S. Mott. I picked up a signed authetic helmet. Pretty sweet swag I must say.
During question and answer session (about 50 people there), he talked about his time as Michigan. He felt his greatest football moment was his punt return against Ohio. He was asked if he was going to do the Heisman pose in the endzone, and his honest answer was yes, he wanted to do it, but he got mobbed by his teammates before he could. He said it turned out to be better that way b/c he feels the pose really was Desmond's moment, and the rose in the teeth is his. I agree with him 100%, I'm glad he didn't give the pose, although had he done it I'm sure we'd all look back at it and call it some sort of tradition.
Questions asked about his eventual HOF induction for the NFL and his Green Bay jersey retirement (good # of Packers fans at the event), and he was extremely humble saying he would hopes it will happen and would relish the events. He said he'd be speechless if the Packers retired his #.
Questions about winning a National Championship vs. a Super Bowl; he said at the time, since he's in college, there's nothing better than a NC, but once you get to the NFL, at that level, winning the Super Bowl is the best reward. Obviously a PC answer with a bipartisan crowd (almost tripartisan with a couple Raiders fans), but it was clear to me he has a lot of pride in winning that Super Bowl, but Michigan obviously has a special place in his heart.
Obvious questions about current team and coach. He said that, bottom line, Coach Hoke just cares about people and cares about his players. He's a no nonsense guy when it comes to that. He loves the kids and it's completely clear to every family he recruits that he loves the kids. That's part of what makes him so special. He said the turnaround in the team, even without "Hoke's" recruits, speaks for itself, and the excuses for the previous coaches (re: Rodriguez) not winning with Carr's recruits is, well, a swear word that I won't write out for Charles' sake. He said the biggest difference between now and the previous coach is, simply, flat-out coaching. It's better now than it was the previous 3 years. As with many former players, it's clear he loves where the program is and where it's going. Jarrett Irons also showed up and seemed to agree with what Charles said.
Question about being the "last" defensive player to win the Heisman. He laughingly corrected the guy and said he's the first and last defensive player to win it. Then he said he's sure another defensive player will win it eventually, but he's honored that he's been the only one so far.
As far as concussions and stuff, he talked at length about how he played flag-football from age 7, then started tackle at 11 or 12, and that's all he's really known in life. He feels like maybe he didn't take his education seriously b/c he knew he had the talent to get to the NFL. He laughed when he said he just recently found out how much more work he has to do to get his degree. He said a lot of guys just don't have the planning WHILE they're playing football for life AFTER football, and he's fortunate to have the wine stuff, the foundation stuff, and some other things to let him easily transition when he's done. Irons chimed in again and said the lack of association in the football fraternity is what causes so many guys to become depressed afterwards, not necessarily the hardship from lack of income and money and things like that. Charles seemed upset about Junior Seau's demise and doesn't think he'll end up that way. He said all those hits he's given and taken, he can't get them back, so he absolutely advocates what the NFL is doing to limit concussions and protect players.
I asked him directly when we were talking about the infamous fire. He said mostly stuff we already knew, but Rick (his wine partner who was also at the function) was the guy sleeping. Charles was up til at least 4 am, then saw the smoke. He woke Rick up, woke up his friend sleeping in a bedroom, and got them out. Others had already ran out as well. Someone there knew exactly how many people were staying at this 17,000 sqft house (Charles and Rick didn't know as they were out and came back late), so as Charles and Rick were running back into the house to get more people out, they were told the count was correct and nobody else was left inside. They watched the entire thing burn to the ground.
I asked him to play for our flag football team playoffs and he laughingly said he can't. We talked about a couple NFL guys who've injured themselves in the off-season and are probably going to lose some money. He's got 2 years left on his deal, so if he makes it 2 more seasons he should get a pretty decent contract afterwards (I think he'll be fine).
When asked about his Michigan jersey "retirement," he basically said, while smiling, "I'm not supposed to be talking about that." This leads me to believe he's gonna follow in Desmond's footsteps, yet again. Nothing we probably couldn't have guessed, but I'm assuming it means something this season. Maybe MSU? Illinois for homecoming? Nothing else seems worthy this year.
tl;dr, I know. Diary if it's deemed worthy. Thanks. Also, pardon mistakes, I've had too much wine. Goodnight.