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WINCHESTER -- Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival President Lou Ann Thompson announced on Wednesday afternoon that NFL Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson, a standout with both the Pittsburgh Steelers and later the Baltimore Ravens, has joined the growing lineup of sports celebrities at the 2013 Wells Fargo Sports Breakfast scheduled for Saturday morning in Winchester.
Woodson joins NASCAR legend, Bill Elliott, NBA 10,000+ point scorer, Johnny Newman, and emcee Ken Mease at the Sports Breakfast podium.
In 1987, Woodson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 10th overall draft pick. He returned punts and played cornerback for Pittsburgh through the 1996 season. On Nov. 22, 1987 he recorded his first career interception when he picked off a Boomer Esiason pass.
Woodson's career took a nomadic turn with free agency from Pittsburgh after the Rooney family, longtime owners of the Steelers, elected not to renew his contract over a salary cap dispute. Although he remained to raise his family in Pittsburgh and later made peace with the Rooneys, he hopped between three additional franchises, becoming one of the few modern cornerbacks to successfully make a transition to the safety position, following in the footsteps of Ronnie Lott.
Woodson signed with the San Francisco 49ers for the 1997 season, the Baltimore Ravens for the years 1998 to 2001 [where he won Super Bowl XXXV], and the Oakland Raiders for 2002 and 2003 [where he appeared in his third Super Bowl]. In the Raiders' 2002 Super Bowl season, 37-year old Woodson led the NFL in interceptions (8) for the first time in his career. His last interception came on Nov. 16, 2003 against the Minnesota Vikings' Daunte Culpepper.
Woodson was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, a record for a defensive back. He was also the first player to earn Pro Bowl trips at cornerback, safety and kick returner. He was named 1993's NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. Woodson finished second to Darrell Green in the 1988 NFL Fastest Man Contest. In 1994, he was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team, one of only five active players to be so named. In 1999, he was ranked number 87 on "The Sporting News" list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
"The College Football News" also honored him as one of the 100 greatest players of the 20th century. On Jan. 31, 2009, Woodson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
Woodson was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., the youngest of three siblings. He played defensive back in high school and a variety of offensive skill positions, and was all-state his junior and senior seasons. He was also named a Parade and USA Today All-American. Woodson was named Indiana "Mr. Football" in 1982. Woodson accepted a full scholarship to play football at Purdue University, in part because of a desire to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. He played primarily as a defensive back and kick returner, but also saw time on offense as a running back and wide receiver. He was named an All-American defensive back in 1985 and 1986, and was a three-time All-Big Ten first-team selection. Woodson left Purdue with 13 individual records, tying the school record with 11 career interceptions. Woodson was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
In addition to his exploits on the gridiron, Woodson was also an accomplished track and field athlete at Purdue, and was twice awarded All-America honors. Woodson held the NCAA 60 meter hurdles record for 10 years. In 1984, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 110-meter hurdles, but elected to continue his football career in the NFL after graduating from Purdue with a degree in criminal justice.