Alright so I had a buddy of mine pose this question to me like 5 weeks ago and it has been tormenting me ever since: throwing out the 'meaning' of the signing and judging it solely on 'on-field' performance, who was the bigger free agent signing; Reggie White or Charles Woodson. Baffling right? Like there's no clear cut answer there. It's like asking me whether 2011 Kate Upton is hotter than 1992 Cindy Crawford. Like asking me to choose between the internet and TV for the rest of my life. Like choosing between Ryu or Ken in Street Fighter. Almost feels like a coin flip at the end of the day.
But in the interest of filling my daily internet space quota, who would you go with in that debate? Obviously the sticking point is that he took the 'meaning' part of the equation because if you leave that in there it's hands down Reggie White. Like I'm not sure people today completely comprehend how big of a coup that was for Ron Wolf and the Packers. I mean the Packers in 1993 were a franchise that had been total garbage for almost three full decades. Not to mention Green Bay had the stigma of being 'small town' and, let's be honest, suffered from the stigma that black players had limited endorsement opportunities in a small market where 95% of the population looks like the author of this blog (and if you need a point of reference PBS actually used my pigment to create Bob Ross's Titanium White paint). Now it's not like there were Clan rallies in Lambeau during non-game days and I think for the most part Packer fans could care less if you're black, white or blue, but still if you do some reading there was that concern from black free agents contemplating coming to Green Bay. So when White picked us it was beyond shocking. It would be like Troy Polumalu signing in Jacksonville in the offseason. Or Heidi Klum choosing me to go on a date with when Tom Selleck is right next to me. Just flat out bonkers.
But since that's out the window you have to look purely at the tale of the tape. Now Bill James I am not so let's just look at the vitals:
Reggie White: 68.5 sacks in 6 seasons. Averaged around 30 tackles a season. Won the Defensive MVP in 1998. Had 3 sacks in the Super Bowl victory in '96. Heals from broken bones like he's Wolverine.
Charles Woodson: 38 INTs in 6 seasons and some change. 9 defensive touchdowns scored. 15 forced fumbles. Averages about 60 tackles a season. Won Defensive MVP in 2009. Helped win the Super Bowl in 2010 but did miss the 2nd half with injury. Total coverage is second only to water.
Now no doubt White had some great seasons in Green Bay, but his GREAT seasons were in Philly. 124 sacks in 8 seasons. And White was on one of the most star studded lines in Packer history with Dotson, Gilbert, and Sean Jones. Woodson meanwhile has been an anchor on some atrocious secondaries, and plays in an era where the NFL instituted a rule long ago enforced by my dates; no touching of any kind. I think the slight edge goes to Woodson? Granted his time isn't done, if he stays for one or two more seasons and is healthy and playing safety it may be no contest. If the Packers win another Super Bowl and he's a contributor, it's also probably no contest.
Kind of puts in perspective all the 'Ted Thompson never signs free agents whaaaaaa' crowd. I don't always sign free agents, but when I do, I get their jacket size and forward it to Canton.
PS: If Reggie hadn't signed here I'm not sure we even see Woodson in a Packer jersey.
Double PS: Is this the first actual blog I've written? I think I had a thesis statement and everything in there. Grantland I'm coming for your ass!