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HE KICKED OFF AND ENDED HIS CAREER as a Raider and won a Super Bowl ring as a Packer, but these days, Charles Woodson feels more like a lion. Not of the NFL team variety, but the jungle cat kind — a two-legged member of the Lion King tribe. Just don’t call him Scar.
“I don’t want to be Scar, man! We don’t like Scar around here,” the 45-year-old 18-year NFL veteran laughs during our Zoom chat. “I’m more of a Mufasa.” (Say it again, say it again!)
The reason we’re talking about said prideful beasts and their Disney brethren is simple: They serve as the inspiration behind Woodson’s Intercept Wine label. “The lion represents strength, the king of the jungle, pride, family. I wanted the label to mirror what I felt a team should be,” he explains.
And Woodson knows. After all, he’s been playing the game for most of his life. The thing is, he’s equally well-versed in wine speak, having discovered the glories of harvested grapes during his first season as a professional athlete when, in 1998, as a newly drafted member of the then-Oakland Raiders, he headed off to Napa Valley for his first training camp. Seven years later, a big, bold Cab became his ride or die, his raison d’être.
“I didn’t know anything about Napa Valley or wine country to begin with, but my curiosity was definitely piqued from the beginning,” he says. “I mean, I found myself in this amazing place for almost four weeks every year, where literally everything was centered around wine. Every restaurant you went to, there were two, three, four bottles on the table and people always just seemed to be having a good time. Conversation was flowing, too, but the centerpiece was always wine. I’d see people swirling and sipping, but I didn’t really understand what was going on, because I came [to Napa] straight out of college, and in college, we weren’t doing a whole lot of swirling and sipping. We were doing a whole other kind of drinking entirely,” he recalls with a laugh.