Growing up, perfection for me was my older brother, Terry Carter. He was a football, wrestling and track star in our hometown. I was just known as Terry Carter's little brother. My goal was to get out from under that title and be known as Charles Woodson. That was my marker.
In football, perfection is having strong-willed, strong-minded people who go to work every day. As physical as it is, everybody goes into a game hurt or tired, or they have family things they're dealing with. Perfection is having guys who are able to block everything out that's happened Monday through Saturday and focus on the common goal, which is to get the win that day.
I felt furthest from perfect when we didn't win the Super Bowl in 2003, when I was with the Raiders. I played that year with a broken shoulder and then ended up breaking my fibula, so I played the entire postseason with a metal plate in my leg. I never really felt like myself. That's the time in my life when I felt the lowest. I felt like our team had gelled; that was our year to win it. We got close to the top of the mountain, but couldn't quite get to the very top.
I need that Super Bowl ring, so that whenever I retire I can call my career a complete career. I play here in Green Bay, and you know the legend of Vince Lombardi: Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing. That's the way I feel. Anything less than winning just isn't perfect.
--As told to Anna Katherine Clemmons