Q: How does it feel to be on your new team?
Houshmandzedah: It's good man. It was fun being out here being away for a while. I'm just going to have to get used to the helmet, the shoulder pads and running around with bodies. It's a lot different than just working out for sure. You've got to get used to making people miss and knowing you're going to get collision in the open field and just guys in front of you.
Q: Coach Jackson talked about maybe you assuming a leadership role. Is that kind of a delicate matter just because you're new, but at the same time the young guys know your reputation?
Houshmandzedah: You know what – I think you don't really make yourself a leader. To me, a leader is somebody that people are willing to follow. So if that's the case, then that's the case. Guys that help me, I'm going to help them and I won't force my beliefs or what I think is the right way to do certain things on anyone. That's just not me but if they want help, I'm going to help them.
Q: Are you surprised it took you this long to get back with a team?
Houshmandzedah: Yeah – to be honest with you, I mean, yeah I am. But, things are out of my control. All I can do is now these last nine games is play the best I can play and help the Raiders win as many games as they can and that's pretty much all I can do.
Q: How frustrating was it sitting out the first few months?
Houshmandzedah: You know what – it was humbling. It was not frustrating, it was humbling, just being honest with you. But on the flipside of that, it was great because I got to spend so much time with my wife and my kids and being up here last night, I was like, 'Wow, I really miss them' because we'd spend all day together. That's just what we do -- I'd go work out, they'd go to school after that – we're together every day, all day so that was a good thing, but I love to play football. This is what I love to do. I don't have to play from what I need financially; I'm okay. So, I'm playing because I want to play and I enjoy it.
Q: How much of a factor is the possible chemistry that you and Carson have because of the time you spent recently?
Houshmandzedah: I'm not sure. I think it will help when I do get a chance to get on the field. I think Hue knowing me and being comfortable with me and if I can't do anything – they say I can't run or whatever, but I can run a route and get open with the best of them and I can catch the ball. The last play I played, I dropped it and that's something that I really don't do so I'm eager to kind of get that behind me also.
Q: Did you talk to Hue much when they were trying to sort things out at training camp? He said he wanted to bring you in…
Houshmandzedah: We talked a little bit. It was just I never thought it would get as far as it did and so I had different opportunities and you don't think it's going to get this far. So certain opportunities, you said, 'Let's just wait' and a wait turned into a wait, a wait and a wait.
Q: So you kind of put Hue on hold?
Houshmandzedah:No, no. I'm just saying with other teams. No, no – I've always wanted to be able to play for Hue again. I didn't think I would get the opportunity, but it's great. When Hue was my coach in Cincinnati; I said it and I'll say it now – I always thought he should have been a head coach because of his demeanor, his ability to relate to players, and he lets you be you but he doesn't really let you go overboard. I mean it's a fine line; it's like college. He knows how to relate to players; that's what a good head coach is and I always thought he had those qualities.
Q: T.J., how do you personally make this team better?
Houshmandzedah: I can't even answer that for sure. Once I get out there, I could tell you but I'm a football fan. I follow football Sundays when I was at home. I'd try to flip through the channels, have the Sunday Ticket, watch as many games as I can and just with the guys they have, they're all fast but they don't really have a guy that can work the middle of the field and run routes. So, I think that I can bring that to the table. With those guys on the outside and the way Carson throws the ball and his ability to understand what the defense is trying to do, I think we can be really good if we put this thing together. I mean all these receivers can play here; me being here my first day, they all can play.
Q: This may sound like loaded question, but you are on 34. You've got a little mileage on you but at the same time, you look like you can go out there and light it up. How much in the tank do you have left?
Houshmandzedah: Well, this is what I tell people all the time. I played one your of high school football, I played three years of college, I didn't play in my first three years in the NFL, I've never been hurt, so I think I can play for awhile. That's just being honest. I don't feel sore, I can run, I just feel good. I feel better now and it could be because I wasn't playing all these weeks when the other guys were, but I feel good. People look at age and this and that; look at the body and the injuries and the playing time. I haven't played a lot of my career. I sat on the bench for three years.
Q: You said it was humbling. Did you ever think your NFL career might be over?
Houshmandzedah: I mean it crossed my mind; I'm sure it did, but again, it wasn't one of those things where I was like, 'What am I going to do if I don't play?' I mean, I love my kids and my wife and so it was like we're going to do something every day. They go to school, they have activities and I'm at every practice; this is the truth. Wherever I go, I live in LA. Every fan; go play for the Raiders – truth and if people watch this, I probably got it 50 times a day at least. My kids play softball, I go to softball tournaments over the summer; I probably got that 200 times and so I just want to have fun and help the team.
Q: A couple of weeks ago, you had a tryout across the bay. Was that a serious consideration over there? Did they seriously consider you?
Houshmandzedah:I don't know. All my tryouts I had – I went to New England, New York, San Francisco, and here. I felt like New England I had a really good workout, New York was just okay – it was a long flight, you get in at 3:00 in the morning, you get no food, you get up, you go work out. San Francisco I thought my workout was solid and yesterday, I thought my workout was really good. So, I don't know; you would have to ask them. I couldn't tell you.
Q: I've heard people describe you as fearless out there. That has to be part of an NFL player, but I've noticed a lot of balls you go up. It's almost like you've got tunnel vision. Could you talk a little bit about that…
Houshmandzedah: Just try to focus on the ball, really. I don't care if I get hit. If you don't catch it, they're going to hit you anyway and that's how I look at it. I focus on the ball and I'm really looking forward to getting hit because with the new rules, they can't really come hit you hard so that's concentrating on the ball even more. But, I've always been that way. They're going to hit you anyway. I want to catch the ball and I told Carson years ago I'll take any hit for a catch, I don't care who it is. It could be Richard Seymour across the middle. If you're going to throw me the ball, I'll take that hit for the ball. That's just what I believe in.
Q: You said something when Carson got here about how you noticed his arm strength was back to what it was in Cincinnati. How long did that injury limit him?
Houshmandzedah: Only he could tell you how long. It's just from my being around him. We work out every summer. Just last summer, the zip wasn't there. It was at certain times, but I think he fatigued really quick. But this summer and I asked him – and it was probably one of the last times we worked out actually and he was like, 'Yeah, it was bothering me' but he's not going to say anything. The more you guys get to know him he's not going to complain. If he throws an interception and it's my fault, he's going to say it's his fault. That's just how he is, but I've noticed it and it's a big difference. People on TV are like, 'Oh, he doesn't have arm strength.' They don't know what they're talking about.
Q: By last summer, you mean 2010. Right?
Houshmandzedah: 2010, I didn't think it was what it was, but this summer, I thought wow, this was like Carson when we were rolling in Cincinnati.
Q: He says that you play with a chip on your shoulder and he likes that. Do you agree with that description?
Houshmandzedah: I mean I have. I've been doubted my whole life. If anybody – if you go back and look at my story and my life, I'm not supposed to be here. I'm supposed to be working at UPS or something, I don't know; FedEx. I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to be in the NFL. I wasn't highly touted, highly recruited. Out of [junior college] I was, but I'm not a guy that's supposed to be here and I've been doubted my whole life. So, I think that's what drives me because people say, 'Oh, you can't do this or you can't do that.' I feel like if you want to play basketball, I can play with you. If you want to play home run derby, I can hit homeruns. If you want to play golf, I can hit the golf ball. That's just how I feel and I believe in myself, but yeah I've been doubted my whole life. Being in the NFL is no different.
Q: Is it more of an opportunity that you welcome here given that the Raiders are know for getting guys no even yourself, even Carson and the position he's in and try to prove people wrong?
Houshmandzedah: I don't know. Carson has always been the California kid. USC, Heisman Trophy winner; so that's different. I don't think people doubt Carson's ability to play. But, that's always been the case with me. If I have success, it's because of somebody else and I'm fine with that. It doesn't matter to me. I don't need to you to praise me. I'm content with who I am, I don't need attention; it doesn't bother me if get the attention. If it comes, it comes, but football has been great to me. So, I just enjoy it and I like to have fun.
Q: In Cincinnati, you were on some teams that were really, really close and had some good playoff runs. Do you feel like you have some unfinished business that you want to really get out of there and get that championship?
Houshmandzedah: Yeah, that was the biggest reason with me going to Baltimore last year and again when it mattered, I dropped the ball. Not saying we would have won the game, but we would have had a chance to continue that drive. But yes – when I look at the Raiders and I follow football like I said earlier, they have so much talent. They have a coach who I believe in and if Hue said, 'Guys listen, we're going to get in the Wing-T and we're going to run option this week. T.J., I need you to be the fullback and lead up the A-gap.' I'm going to do it. I might say, 'Why does he want to go that?' but I'm going to do it because I believe in his ability to lead us to victories in the way that he coaches. The Raiders have a lot of talent on this team; it's just a matter of putting everything together.
Q: You brought up that dropped pass twice; does that haunt you?
Houshmandzedah: No, it doesn't haunt me. It bothers me because I don't drop the ball. But, I dropped that ball and I'm not ashamed to say I dropped it. I wish I hadn't, but I did, so it is what it is.