After 12 years of service, Darren Woodson retired following the 2003 season as the Cowboys all-time leading tackler (1,350 career stops). Along the way, he helped Dallas win three Super Bowl championships, securing an elite position in the club's history. Throughout his career, Woodson clearly and consistently established himself as one of the NFL's premier strong safeties. Woodson's dependability, athleticism, aggressiveness and the ability to produce in the big game put him in the elite level of performers in the NFL. In addition, his versatility at playing both the run and pass at an extremely productive level is what separated Woodson from the rest of the strong safety field. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, was named first team All-Pro four times and played in three Super Bowls. Woodson's four All-Pro selections tied him with Mel Renfro (1965, 1967, 1969 and 1971) and Cliff Harris (1975-1978) for the most All-Pro selections by a safety in team history. He was inducted as the 21st member of The Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on November 1, 2015 at halftime of the Cowboys-Seahawks game.
A converted college linebacker from Arizona State, Woodson became the complete NFL package at safety. He combined size (6-1, 219) and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) with great football instincts and hitting ability. He recorded at least 100 tackles in nine of his 12 seasons. He started 175 of 194 career games during his playing career, including playoffs, missing only 14 possible games during the entirety of his career. Woodson had 48 double-figure tackle games in his career, and in 2002, he became the leading tackler in Dallas Cowboys history by passing Lee Roy Jordan (1,236) stops. With 23 career interceptions, Woodson closed his career out 10th on the club's all-time list. Woodson maintained the aggressive nature that he displayed as a college linebacker, but used his quickness and speed to make a very smooth transition to the secondary. Woodson finished first or second on the team in tackles in five of the last 11 seasons (1993-96, 1998). He also went over the 100 tackle mark in four consecutive seasons (1993-96), becoming the first Dallas player to accomplish that feat since Michael Downs (1983-86). In 1995, he became the first Dallas defensive back to lead the team in tackles (144) since Bill Bates in 1988. He duplicated that feat in 1998. In 1993, he established a Dallas single-season record for tackles by a defensive back (155). In the Cowboys base defensive alignment, Woodson lined up at strong safety, but he also showed great production when lining up at outside linebacker in certain nickel pass defenses, often covering a slot receiver. His versatility and aggressive attitude made him a very valuable special teams performer, posting a combined total of 134 special teams tackles as a pro. Woodson was one of the team's hardest workers, and his character and leadership ability made him a very valuable asset within the framework of the team. He last signed a long-term contract after the 2001 season ended that assured Woodson's place as a Dallas Cowboy throughout his entire career.