Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: You're a native of Northern California, Antioch to be exact, but then you went away to play your college football at Ohio. How does it feel to be back home playing in front of your family and friends?
Carrie:"It feels great. It's truly been a blessing to come back to the home state and be around family, be around familiar faces as far as the community and the fans. The support that we receive here at the Oakland Raiders has been tremendous, so it's enjoyable right now. I'm enjoying it."
Q: When you were growing up, what made you want to become a football player?
Carrie:"When you get a chance to grow up around football – all of my older brothers were playing football and then I actually got a chance to come to some Raider games during my high school tenure – it's been a blessing to be able to have that experience. You grow up and you idolize players at the next level. You idolize players in high school, college, and throughout the years your passion becomes stronger and I think that's what's kept me here so long."
Q: You had to wait until the seventh round of the NFL Draft before you got the call from the Raiders. Can you describe your emotions throughout that day and then when you finally found out you were coming home?
Carrie:"I actually can't even explain it. Words can't describe the excitement that we had. I was with a group of family and we all just sat there and cried for a minute. We didn't believe it was true until my name came across the screen. So when I got the call, it was kind of like, 'Man, is this for real?' Then when I saw my name come across the board and I starting getting the phone calls, it was such a real feeling."
Q: What has been the hardest part for you in transitioning to the NFL game?**
Carrie:"I think the hardest part is the situations that you go through as far as game plan. In college, you're kind of really not focusing on different situations – backed in, backed out, two-minute, four-minute. All of those different type of situational things that you practice for and scheme against is a big tendency in the game. I think that as far as the film study has been a lot more complicated to deal with."
Q: Which of these experienced veterans out here has helped you the most either on or off the field?
Carrie:"To me, I think I've got a chance to really talk to a lot of the guys as far as the offensive and defensive side of the ball, so it hasn't really been too much of just defensively. A lot of the offensive guys have helped me a lot to really go through the transition and what I need to be doing as far as taking care of my business and doing my job on and off the field. This has been a great atmosphere."
Q: You were an all-conference punt returner when you were at Ohio and we saw a glimpse of that against the Detroit Lions when you had a 50-yard return in just your second preseason game. Is there one skill that sets punt returners like yourself apart from the field?
Carrie:"I think it really has to just be an instinct thing that you have to have. You have to have that feeling. You have to be very confident back there, because believe it or not, I think truly that punt returner is one of the hardest positons on the field, just because your eyes are in the sky and you have 11 potential guys that have the opportunity to come down on you and tackle you without you being able to see. You have to be able to react within a split second. There are a lot of skills that you have to be able to handle doing that position."* *
Q: Do you have any hidden talents you want Raider Nation to know about?
Carrie:"I haven't really exposed myself too much to it, but I was a barber in college. All through college, I cut our coaches' hair, players', a lot of the people that were there. I really haven't had the opportunity to share my talents with some of the guys here. It's going to be something that I take with a grain of salt as far as trying to get out there and start cutting some hair."
Q: What advice would you give to a younger TJ Carrie?
Carrie:"I think the biggest thing is to always be optimistic in whatever obstacle you go through. I think I'm a true example of that, that a lot of things can go wrong in getting to this position or achieving the dream or the goal of even making it to college. You have to turn every bad obstacle into a good obstacle or a good outcome, so you really have to be optimistic through whatever happens in life and stay true to what you do as far as believing in who you believe in spiritually, and the man above, or the man who you believe in, will definitely guide you in the right direction. That's the biggest thing I can say, along with taking care of your school work, the hard work and the dedication. A lot of obstacles and a lot of opportunities kids go through nowadays, you've got to be optimistic."
Q: Finally, what did you sing for your rookie show performance?
Carrie:"Oh man, I sung some R. Kelly. I was getting down, too. I boogied with it, I danced a little bit. It was fun."