One-year removed from playing in the Pro Bowl, Woodson returns as ESPN analyst, Legends Captain

Before joining ESPN as an analyst this season, Charles Woodson (L) closed his brilliant NFL career playing in the 2016 Pro Bowl. Jon Gruden, his onetime coach when they were Oakland Raiders, interviews him here.
Before joining ESPN as an analyst this season, Charles Woodson (L) closed his brilliant NFL career playing in the 2016 Pro Bowl in Honolulu. ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden, his onetime coach when they were Oakland Raiders, interviews him here.

The 2016 Pro Bowl was Charles Woodson’s final game as a NFL player. After 18 seasons as a standout defensive back, the future Hall of Famer received a hero’s send-off in Hawaii last January. Soon after that, he joined ESPN as a NFL analyst.

Now a year removed, the nine-time Pro Bowler is back. Woodson is in Orlando this week – where he now lives year-round – working for ESPN and serving as a mentor to active players as an NFL Pro Bowl Legends Captain.

Before tonight’s Pro Bowl Skills Showdown at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), Woodson spoke with Front Row.

At a Monday Night Football game in Mexico City in December, Woodson (R) reunited with former Oakland Raiders teammate Derek Carr. (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)
At the Monday Night Football game in Mexico City in November, Woodson (R) reunited with former Oakland Raiders teammate Derek Carr. (Bill Hofheimer/ESPN)

What are you looking forward to this week as a Legends Captain?
This gives me a chance to be around the next generation of players. Any questions they have for me and other Legends Captains, we will welcome them because whatever these players are going through or will go through, we have experienced already. I just want to be an example for them as a guy who has gone through this league and come out on the other side.

How was your first season at ESPN been?
The transition is smooth when you have a good group around you, and I did. It’s even better when you have other guys going through it for the first time with you like we did with [fellow ESPN NFL Countdown analysts] Matt [Hasselbeck], Randy [Moss] and Trent [Dilfer] on Sundays. Getting to know those guys and all the people who work at ESPN, and to be able to give my perspective as a former player, it was fun.

Do you have a favorite memory from this fall?
I enjoyed the Monday Night games when my former teams were playing. We had a Green Bay [Packers] game in Philly and a couple of [Oakland] Raiders games – in Mexico City and then during the playoffs. Seeing guys I played with, old coaches, equipment managers, all those guys you worked closely with through the years, I was able to reunite with them. That was great.

What are your memories from last year’s Pro Bowl?
I got a chance to take my kids. They are young, and they hadn’t been to the Pro Bowl before. Being with my wife and kids and experiencing my last Pro Bowl in Hawaii with them was my fondest memory.

Editor’s Note: ESPN has multiple days of Pro Bowl coverage from Orlando this week. Woodson will be part of the Postseason NFL Countdown pregame show Sunday (6 p.m. ET) from Camping World Stadium before the 2017 Pro Bowl telecast (7:50 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes). For more information, visit ESPN Media Zone.