'The only way it could be': Charles Woodson, Al Harris enter Packers Hall of Fame together

Pro Bowl cornerbacks made elevating one another’s game a daily task

Former Packers cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Al Harris

GREEN BAY – They played together for four seasons, from 2006-09, but there was so much more to it for Charles Woodson and Al Harris.

They practiced together every day, one trying to outdo the other. They went to a Pro Bowl together. They became fast friends off the field, with Harris helping Woodson settle into to Green Bay when he wasn't crazy about his new home upon arriving as a free agent.

On Thursday night, fittingly, the pair of star cornerbacks went into the Packers Hall of Fame together as the latest inductees, their pandemic-delayed honor no less special because they were still able to share it with one another.

"That's my boy, you know what I mean?" Woodson said about Harris in his remarks to the media before the induction ceremony. "There's been countless guys go into the Packers Hall of Fame. I don't know how many guys actually go in with the guy they really grinded with every day, to be the best at their position, the way we did, at the same position.

"I watched him all the time take on that challenge of trying to be the best corner in football, and here I am on the other side, trying to be the best as well. So that's the way we pushed each other. To go in with him is the only way it could be, to be honest."

Harris, acquired by the Packers via trade with the Eagles in 2003, was in Green Bay for three years before Woodson arrived and had already made a name for himself. Harris' pick-six in overtime to win the 2003 NFC Wild Card playoff vs. Seattle remains one of the most iconic plays in team history.

When Woodson came over from Oakland to join him in 2006, the Packers had two legitimate No. 1 corners, and their bond on and off the field formed quickly and grew strong.

"From Day 1 when he got here, it just all clicked," Harris said. "We didn't have to force anything. Everything was genuine. 'Wood' is serious a lot of the times, just serious. But we laughed a lot, and just the way we went about business every day was super awesome.

"It just happened. It was all organic. Passionate about the game, passionate about the position. Everything just fell in line."

Woodson was made aware of the ever-burning fire in Harris before he even talked to him. Their position coach at the time, Lionel Washington, warned Woodson that Harris would never let another player outwork him.

That introduction to Harris put an appreciation in place before Woodson really got to know him, and the serious, business-like approach Harris referred to simply took over at times.

"Coming out at practice, me and Al would look at each other and he'd say, 'Hey, are we working today?' I'm like, 'Let's work today,'" Woodson said. "And what that meant was the young guys weren't getting any reps. It was all me and Al.

"If it was a hot day, we might take a play off, but other than that, no young guys got any reps. They didn't like that too much, but that's the way we pushed each other. I believe that's the reason we're both here."

Harris was selected to two Pro Bowls and Woodson four during their time with the Packers, with both getting chosen in 2008, the year before Woodson won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

They both played seven seasons in Green Bay, and both played elsewhere before and after, but enjoying their best years here. Harris is now an assistant defensive backs coach on former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy's staff in Dallas, while Woodson – inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last month – continues to be involved with numerous charitable and media endeavors.

Individually and collectively, their toughness as players set a standard in the locker room that wasn't lost on anyone. They both played through, and came back from, serious injuries to set that example.

Harris missed just four games in Green Bay before a torn ACL late in the 2009 season turned out to end his playing days with the Packers. Woodson missed only three games until his last year here in 2012, when a broken collarbone – his second after suffering the same injury in Super Bowl XLV – cost him half of his final Packers season.

The team's current head athletic trainer, Bryan Engel, who presented Woodson for induction Thursday, said the locker-room presence of the pair is still talked about amongst the medical staff.

"Really it's hard to mention Charles without mentioning Al, because those two together …  pound for pound, the toughest two players I've ever come across in the National Football League," Engel said.

And now they've gone into the Packers Hall of Fame together. The only way it could be? The only way it should be.

"For it to happen, for it to happen now, to go in with 'Wood,' I'm super-stoked," Harris said. "It means the world to me."

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