FORT WAYNE – Even though the 60-pound bronze plaque that will be unveiled today at Snider will bear his name and likeness, NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson insists its his city that is being recognized, not just him.
The native son has returned to Fort Wayne from his home in Pleasanton, Calif., for a few days to participate in the Hometown Hall of Famers program sponsored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Co.
Woodson, the perennial All-Pro defensive back who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, will be presented with his Hometown Hall of Famer plaque during a ceremony at his Snider High School alma mater at 1 p.m. today. In addition, a commemorative Rod Woodson Hometown Hall of Famer road sign will be on display.
Yeah, theyre still honoring the individual, but theyre honoring the hometown, and I think thats great, Woodson said. Its great to honor the hometowns of the Hall of Famers because thats where they grew up; thats where they honed their skills.
Theyre not just honoring me. To me, the celebration is going to be over at Snider High School. Theyre honoring Snider, because Snider was a portion of my career growing up that really developed me as a player and as a human being.
Woodson, rated No. 1 among the all-time top 26 athletes within the Fort Wayne area by The Journal Gazette sports staff, participated in football, track and basketball at Snider.
After his 1983 graduation, Woodson attended Purdue University, where he became a two-time All-American and all-Big Ten defensive back.
Chosen as the No. 10 overall pick in the 1987 draft by Pittsburgh, Woodson played 10 seasons with the Steelers, where in 1989 he was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His career stops also included Baltimore, San Francisco and Oakland.
Five years after his 2004 retirement, he was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In his nationally televised induction speech, Woodson more than gave a nod to his hometown.
I love Fort Wayne, he said from the podium in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 8, 2009. A great place to grow up. You know, I think it kept me rooted in reality, honestly. I think it taught me what was truly real to me and important to me as a man and as a kid growing up. I really want to thank Fort Wayne for accepting me and embracing me throughout my lifetime.
Throughout my career, and accepting my family while we were there in Fort Wayne, Ind., and while theyre still there in Fort Wayne for who we were as people.
Woodson will be joined at todays ceremony by family members as well as friends and community members.