Six-time All-NFL cornerback Rod Woodson joined Warren Sapp, Brian Jones, and Kenyon Rasheed for this week’s episode of the BetUS Unfiltered podcast, where the Steelers’ legend spoke about his growth under then-defensive coordinator Tony Dungy during the early part of his Hall of Fame career.
Dungy, Woodson said, was the perfect mentor as Woodson wrapped his arms around a position change to cornerback after going from Purdue to the NFL. And without Dungy, Woodson said, his 17-year career might have never panned out as it did.
“I give all the credit to Tony Dungy,” Woodson said. “Tony is a loving, caring, compassionate individual. He doesn’t raise his voice — but he fluctuates it a little bit, he rolls his eyes at you a tad, kind of like a dad to his son, like, ‘Come on.’
“I’m the type of player where I don’t like people yelling at me,” the 11-time Pro Bowler and 1993 Defensive Player of the Year continued. “Talk to me as a person and I’ll do what you tell me to do. So when I first came into the league, I needed Tony. I needed Tony to teach me to play corner because I played safety. I played with my eyes in the backfield. When you play corner, you can’t play with your eyes in the backfield.”
Woodson also praised Dungy — who later coached Sapp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — for his patience as Woodson grew more comfortable in the position.
“If I played today, they probably would have said I was going to be a bust because I got beat so much,” Woodson said. “But Tony allowed us to learn from our mistakes as long as we didn’t have repeat performances.”
Unfortunately, Rasheed, Sapp, and Jones pointed out, that level of patience is never shown with Black coaches in the NFL. And during a discussion on the NFL’s diversity initiatives, the whole crew made it clear where they stand on those efforts — citing the league’s recent announcement that Monday’s game between the Bucs and Rams will feature an all-Black crew.
“This is a propaganda thing,” Rasheed said. “I don’t know who put that news out there, but my guess is it was the NFL. Now, why?”
“I saw that and I was ballistic,” Jones added. “Who gives a damn if they’re all Black? Just make sure you call the game correctly. I’ll be so happy when we get to a point in our society when we don’t have to say, ‘the first Black this’ or ‘the first woman this.’”
“If you’re going to say, ‘Hey man, we’re going to hire who the hell we want and if a majority of players are African-American and our front office is 99% Caucasian, then that’s what we’re going to do,’ you know, I get it,” Rasheed continued. “But you don’t do what you are doing, which is, ‘We are trying to do something, guys, and we’re going to give you a third-round pick if you promote someone within …’ when you’ve got Hall of Famers who is qualified and knows the game but are not even brought in.”
Woodson also discussed his picks for the NFL’s top defensive backs, starting with the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey at cornerback and Minkah Fitzpatrick of the Pittsburg Steelers and Jamal Adams of the Seattle Seahawks at safety.
“He so athletic, but I wanted to see Jalen play with more fundamental foundation,” Woodson said. “Now, he’s making more plays this year because he’s playing the nickel, playing inside, they’re blitzing him, they’re playing him in zone, playing him in man. So he’s learning to play inside.
“I think they’re two different styles of player,” Woodson added of Fitzpatrick and Adams. “Minkah is more in space, and Jamal is more coming downhill. He’s that old-school philosophy a little bit.”
The panel also discussed this week’s BetUS Game of the Week, featuring a rematch of the Chiefs (-6.5) and the Raiders. Earlier this season, Oakland defeated Kansas City 40-32 in a shootout at Arrowhead Stadium, and Woodson expects more points as the Chiefs seek redemption in Vegas.
“Kansas City Chiefs can score,” Woodson said. “Those dudes can play, man. The kid, Mahomes, is a generational player. Tyreek Hill, that dude can pick up and put it down. Seventeen (Mecole Hardman) can pick up and put it down. Eighty-seven (Travis Kelce) can pick it up and put it down. They’ve got players across the board, and I haven’t even talked about (Sammy) Watkins.
“But it’ll come down to their defenses,” Woodson said. “The Vegas Raiders have been giving up 30-something points a game, and if they give up 30 points again against the Chiefs, they’re going to lose. You can’t outscore these guys, so you can’t give up any deep balls. And if you limit them on getting touchdowns, then maybe they get another win. But it’s tough to beat a team this good twice in one year.”
Sapp closed out the show with another red-hot “99 Seconds” — taking aim at the President of the United States.
“I’m one of those guys who believes that when you go into a fight, you look a man in the eye and you punch him in the mouth and you go toe to toe with him for everything that you’re worth,” Sapp said. “And then when it’s over you shake that man’s hand — or better yet, you nod to him, because you might not want to shake hands.
“You got your ass whooped, Trump,” Sapp added, “and it’s time for you to go.”
To watch previous episodes of BetUS Unfiltered, click here.