National Football League
How Charles Woodson inspired the Packers to a Super Bowl win with 'The Speech'
National Football League

How Charles Woodson inspired the Packers to a Super Bowl win with 'The Speech'

Updated Nov. 28, 2021 8:52 p.m. ET

At halftime of the big matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, the Green Bay Packers honored Charles Woodson by unveiling his name on the Lambeau Field façade.

It was undoubtedly a big moment for Woodson, just as his August induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was. But Woodson previously said that the biggest moment of his career came in 2011, when the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

Woodson played in barely half that game before he was shelved by a shoulder injury. But he gave a speech at halftime that lifted the spirits of his teammates and helped spur them to victory. 

On Woodson's big day, let's take a look back at that game. When you listen to the comments of Woodson's former teammates, including A.J. Hawk and Greg Jennings, you can understand the impact of The Speech.


Here's what happened:

‘The Speech’: How Charles Woodson inspired a Super Bowl victory

In "The Speech," former Green Bay Packers players recall how Charles Woodson inspired them to a championship.

It was the first half of Super Bowl LVI, and the Packers were steamrollering the Steelers. Aaron Rodgers hit Jennings on a 21-yard touchdown pass to give Green Bay a 21-3 lead just ahead of the two-minute warning, and as Jennings walked off the field, he mimicked the act of sliding a championship ring onto his finger.

"I was that confident," Jennings recalled.

But then the tide turned. Woodson, the Packers' defensive star and veteran leader, broke his collarbone while defending receiver Mike Wallace just before halftime. Woodson was finished for the game, and the Steelers scored soon after to pull within 21-10 at the break.

Woodson broke his collarbone just before the half during Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium.

"It was crushing to see Charles in a sling, clearly not able to go," Hawk said. "[I thought], 'Man, Charles is one of the biggest reasons we're here, and now he's not going to be able to play in the second half.'"

But then Woodson got up to address his team in the locker room, and as Jennings tells it, "everybody stops."

Hawk said he put his head down and his hand in and "tried not to blubber too loudly."

According to Jennings, Woodson said: "We still have an opportunity to do something special, and I'll be right there on the sideline, sling and all, tears and all, making sure that we see it through."

"I'm in tears," Jennings said. "Like, everybody's in tears, man, and if you weren't, you were fighting it back."

"We saw how emotional it was for him and how emotional it was for us, just listening to him," Hawk said. "I think that hit us.

"We can't lose this game," he said he thought after Woodson spoke. "There's just no way."

The Steelers pulled within 21-17 in the third quarter and narrowed the gap to 28-25 in the fourth. But the Packers ultimately walked away with a 31-25 victory, and Woodson walked off with the Lombardi Trophy held high.

Woodson holds up the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl XLV.

As far as the precise contents of Woodson's speech, that has either been kept private or faded from memory.

After the game, Woodson said: "I just asked the guys to understand how much I wanted it."

"That's all he could get out," Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop said at the time. "He was all choked up, and there was just something about it that motivated all of us."

"We never really talked about that speech in-depth," Jennings said. "I don't even know if he remembers all of what he said. But what I do know is he knows the impact that it had, and he knows the role that he played as the leader on that team."


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