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Kawakami: Woodson leaves Oakland in fashion

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 Charles Woodson didn’t want this game to be just about him Thursday night, and it sure wasn’t.

He wanted it to be about all of his teammates, about this city, this franchise and the brotherhood of the entire enterprise.

And it sure was. Absolutely that.

Not just about him, about everything. But add all of it together, and that’s the definition of Woodson’s Raiders and NFL career, too, anyway.

Endurance and competition and triumph.

This game was about coming back, floundering around, surviving long dull periods and many mistakes …

And it was about the Raiders fighting through every bit of that and defeating San Diego 23-20 in overtime at the Coliseum.

Then, just minutes after the final home game of his Hall of Fame career was over, after teammates surrounded him and doused him with water, Woodson was handed a microphone and bellowed to the crowd.

“Can you hear me?” Woodson asked, and yes everyone could, because every human in the building — who weren’t members of the Chargers (and maybe even some of them) — was straining to hear every word.

“It’s been a joy for me to come back and play here for a second time around. You guys welcomed me back with open arms as if I never left.”

But after the 2015 finale in Kansas City on Jan. 3, Woodson is leaving for good now, after an 18-season career, 11 of them with the Raiders in two stints.

And that was the fact that could not be ignored. Woodson is leaving.

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Wherever the Raiders play next season and into the future, in Oakland or Carson, they will never have another player or person like Charles Woodson because there is no such thing.

He showed that, too, again Thursday.

“So this is my last game in the Coliseum,” Woodson continued. “Just know that I’ll never leave you. Go Raiders.”

Then Woodson made his way off the field for the last time, flashed the “O” sign for Oakland as he headed into the tunnel, and he was gone.

He came back out onto the NFL Network set, and there he was serenaded by the Black Hole one last time.

So while this was not quite a regal way to end the Coliseum reign of King Charles I, it was the best the Raiders could do.

And Woodson, more than anybody, understood that, too.

“I guess it had to end like that, right? It was a little bit much for me,” Woodson said at his news conference long after the game. “I would rather have it been a lopsided victory.

“But that’s the way it goes sometimes. But it’s good for it to be this night, a night that’s my last game in the Coliseum, to have the dramatics and come out with a win.”

This game showed that, at 7-8, the Raiders still have many things left to fix. It showed that this is a struggle and that none of this is going to come easily.

But it also showed that any team with Woodson is worth watching, at the end, and any team that has his support is probably worth monitoring even when he’s gone.

Most of this game was dull and uneventful, and especially uneventful for Woodson, who was in on no major plays — and had a few bad missed tackles on some others.

Then, after the Raiders came back to send the game into OT and raced downfield to start OT, coach Jack Del Rio tried to set up the perfect ending.

He sent Woodson into the game as a receiver with the Raiders at the San Diego 10-yard line and ran a double-reverse to him.

Except the Chargers were ready for him, and Woodson lost 3 yards.

“I’m negative-three yards in the rushing department,” Woodson said of his new career mark. “Nobody wants to go out with negative-three yards rushing.”

Did he want to throw for a touchdown if he could? Yes, Woodson said, with one big caveat.

“What would I have looked like if I had thrown an interception there?” Woodson said. “That wouldn’t have been a good deal.”

The reaction from the Coliseum crowd? A loud ovation for No. 24, possibly the only time a 3-yard loss in overtime has produced such a roaring response.

The Raiders ended up kicking the go-ahead field goal, then Woodson was back on the field on defense to stop the Chargers’ last attempt.

And on fourth-and-3, Philip Rivers’ pass went incomplete, and the Raiders had their victory for Woodson’s Oakland swan song.

It was a weird and worthy ending — worthy of the Raiders and worthy of Woodson.

Before the game, Woodson took a stroll around the outer ring of the field and greeted some fans along the way.

“I just wanted to suck it all in; take my time with it,” Woodson said.

“It’s like when you have something really good to eat, you don’t want to eat it really quick. You want to take your time and just nibble on it a little bit.”

Then, as they got ready for warm-ups, the Raiders huddled around him, and Woodson gave a roaring speech. You could almost call it Shakespearean.

“I’m going to share this night with you, with my brothers,” Woodson told his teammates. “Because it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than you. But it ain’t bigger than us.

“This baby is about family, it’s about love. And it’s about the fight. Go out there and win.

“One two three: Bigger than me!”

It was not just about Charles Woodson on Thursday; it was about everything around him, and he tied it all together.

One last time at the Coliseum. Bigger than the rest, as always.

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