Obama jibe reveals Woodson's motivational role

By Simon Evans

DALLAS (Reuters) - Green Bay cornerback Charles Woodson grabbed plenty of attention with a recent dig at U.S. president Barack Obama but his motivational skills go well beyond the odd post-game jibe, his coach said on Monday.

Woodson was caught on camera following the NFC Championship win over the Chicago Bears responding to Obama's pre-game statement that he would attend the Super Bowl -- if his own team, the Bears, reached the big game.

"If the President doesn't want to come out to see us at the Super Bowl, we will go see him," said Woodson after the win which set up the Super Bowl meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

The Super Bowl winners usually get rewarded with a trip to see the President and Woodson followed his comments by leading a team chant of "White House."

The speech grabbed plenty of media attention and last week Obama, on a trip to Wisconsin, was handed a Packers jersey signed by Woodson with the message "See you at the White House . . . Go Packers!"

Woodson said it was no shock to him that his speech attracted so much attention.

"Anytime you mention the president of any country you'll get some press. It was something that was spur of the moment and something to have a little fun. I'm not surprised it got a little airplay," he told reporters after landing in Texas with his team mates.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that Woodson was the team's main motivational speaker before games - a role he had encouraged.

"I told them that pre-game I was now turning the prayer over to them and also the final message over to the captains," he said, adding that senior players voted on who should do the speaking.

"It's a players' game, it's important for us all to be on point with our messaging each week. They had a quick vote, and (quarterback) Aaron Rodgers is leading the prayer and Charles Woodson has been the last one to speak. It's worked out very well," he said.

Woodson, who came to the Packers with something of a negative reputation from his time with the Oakland Raiders, is clearly relishing the task.

"It comes with a little bit of respect. The guys have a lot of respect for me, a lot of respect for my career and how I play the game," he said.

"It's something that I'm fine with. I'm comfortable doing it. It's worked so far. It's been good for us, and so hopefully will be for one more time."

While the Obama comment was clearly an off-the-cuff remark, Woodson says his pre-game pep-talks take some time to come together.

"I go through a few different things in my mind to try to prepare myself. You don't want to just get up there and ramble. I try to put some thoughts together and once I get in front of the team, hopefully it comes off clearly."

(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)