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'The people here are really special': Q&A with Raiders GM Tom Telesco

Tom Telesco has quickly transformed from foe to family of Raider Nation.

After spending 11 seasons as the Los Angeles Chargers general manager, he crosses over the state border to Nevada to assume the same role for the Silver and Black. In his time with the AFC West rival, he helped bring numerous Pro Bowlers onboard with three playoff appearances.'s Levi Edwards spent some time with the Raiders new general manager in his first day on the job and got to know a little more about the new face in the front office.

Levi Edwards: What made this position with the Las Vegas Raiders so appealing to you?

Tom Telesco: No. 1 is the tradition of the team. I think it's incredible. I can't even really believe I'm now a part of the tradition of this team. It goes back to the 60s, everybody knows about the Raiders. It's a global fanbase. So, to be a part of that, I can't tell you how exciting that is. The people in the building have just been incredible. I've worked in a lot of places before, but the people here are really special. You combine all of that together and I think you have a chance to win. There's some good players here already, so you add all of that up and it's a job you love to have.

LE: After being a rival for the Raiders for so long with the Chargers, is it weird being here now?

TT: It probably should be, but it doesn't feel that way now. Maybe it's just the way the NFL is. One thing ends and you're on to the next. Looking forward to competing in the division, but I've worked for the Indianapolis Colts for 15 years, then I went to the Chargers for 11 years and I'm here now. That's the nature of the NFL.

LE: From the outside looking in, what are the pieces (from a player perspective) that make this team run?

TT: I know this past year, the defense really made it run. I loved how the defense played this past year, both the scheme of what they played and the players and how they played. Offensively there were some ups and downs, but that's stuff we'll have to focus a lot on in the offseason. We're not going to ignore the defense obviously, but there's a lot of pieces here. What's going to be nice is not having to block Maxx Crosby anymore. He's almost unblockable. I've seen very few players like him.

LE: You drafted numerous Pro Bowlers with the Chargers, what goes into identifying talent and how to you expect to implement that here?

TT: It's a pretty big checks and balances system. You've got a lot of people involved and we make sure we scouting the physical part of it, but also the intangible part of it – which is a little harder to scout obviously. Make sure you're brining in the right people to represent the team the right way and have hard work, character and drive to be great. Those are things you need in this league. You can't just rely on talent. There's just too much talent on other teams right now.

LE: You're already familiar with the West Coast, but what are the first things that comes to mind about the city of Las Vegas?

TT: I think of the heat. I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like here in the summer time. But it's a really vibrant city. I've been here a good amount of times, but you always forget how big of a city it really is. It's a big population here and just looking at how the Raiders games have been and the hockey team [Vegas Golden Knights] is, it's a rabid fanbase which is really great to see. I'm looking forward to being a part of that.

LE: What's your thoughts on Raider Nation and Allegiant Stadium?

TT: The stadium is awesome. The stadium is just incredible. As far as dealing with Raiders fans as an opponent, it's not great. I'm glad to be on their side now.

LE: Lastly, this may be a little offbeat, but I know you're a Buffalo, New York, native. It's a city famously heralded for Buffalo chicken wings, so what's your go-to spot there?

TT: I get asked that a lot, or someone will ask me "Anchor Bar" or "Duff's" because those are the two famous wing places in Buffalo. But I can tell you from growing up there, you can go to any corner, any pizzeria, any bar and the wings are great. I don't think I've ever been anywhere in Buffalo that doesn't have great wings. You can go to a local place at the corner and get great wings, that's just the way I grew up.

(Fun fact about Telesco: Before playing wide receiver at John Carroll University in Ohio, he played high school football and basketball against former NBA All-Star Christian Laettner – who's also a Buffalo, New York, native.)

View photos from Antonio Pierce and Tom Telesco's first days as the Las Vegas Raiders Head Coach and General Manager.

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