State Representative Gary Click announced legislation Wednesday to rename the Route 20 Bypass in Fremont as Charles Woodson Way.
A resolution was created and supported by the Fremont City Council to change the name in support of the Fremont Ross High School graduate and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2021 inductee.
During Wednesday’s press conference at the Ohio House of Representatives, Ross students spoke about their support of the legislation and what Woodson means to them.
“Growing up as a kid in Fremont athletics, the phrase ‘strive for greatness’ can be translated as 'strive to be like Woodson,’” sophomore Ayden Carter said. “Thanks to Mr. Woodson and all of the outstanding accomplishments he has earned, he has given all Fremont athletes extra motivation to aspire to be the next Charles Woodson.”
More than 50 students, as well as the three high school football players who spoke Wednesday, wrote to Click in support of Woodson.
According to Click, the letters said: “I am proud to be able to say that I sat in the same seats Woodson did,” and “I think it truly would be an inspirational act to put up this highway to show others that you too can become successful no matter where you come from.”
Woodson graduated from Ross in 1995. He was the 1994 Ohio Mr. Football award winner and an All-American that same season. He set records for single-game rushing, season rushing, career rushing, season scoring, and career scoring.
He attended the University of Michigan, where he won the 1997 Heisman Trophy, the only defensive player to win the distinguished award.
Over his NFL career, he spent 18 seasons with the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers. Woodson was selected to nine Pro Bowls and four All-Pro first teams. As a member of the Packers, he won a Super Bowl, led the league in interceptions in 2009 and 2011, and won the 2009 Defensive Player of the Year award.
Woodson was picked for the Hall of Fame in February. He ranks fifth all-time in non-offensive touchdowns (13), second in interceptions returned for touchdowns (11), and fifth in career interceptions (65).
“I am truly honored to play with the same name as Mr. Woodson played for,” Carter said. “Him paving the way shows me that even if I live in a little city or a little town, the only thing that could stop me is me. And I'm my own enemy. He also shows a lot of us what you can do when you give your all. Through his blood, sweat and tears, he continued to pour out his heart and became one of the best to play the game of football.”
Both Click and Fremont mayor Danny Sanchez discussed Woodson’s perseverance and his efforts to give back to the community.
Woodson established the Charles Woodson Clinical Research Fund at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. The initiative aims to fund treatment methods to children who need it most.
“So many others in our great city believe that we can be successful if we don't give up, if we persevere,” Sanchez said. “Your leadership off the field may be even greater than what you have accomplished on the field; if that is even possible.”
Woodson’s family also spoke at the press conference. Terry Carter, Woodson’s older brother, said the renaming of the bypass “could not have happened to a better person.’
Watching the press conference via Zoom, Woodson thanked everyone in attendance, his family, and those who took the time to speak.
Woodson said the recognition was an “unbelievable honor,” and he can’t wait to come back to Fremont to see Charles Woodson Way.
“All the kids in Fremont, just know that you are all somebody special, and nobody can ever take that away from you,” Woodson said. “But you have to believe that about yourself, that you're special.”