Q&A with Tony Bergstrom

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Offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom. Photo courtesy of University of Utah
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Q: Did you have any inkling that it would be the Raiders?

Bergstrom: Not really. It's one of those things where it's just kind of a crapshoot. You never know what is going to happen. I was told to expect the unexpected in the draft and that's kind of what happened. I was excited. I had interviewed with some of the coaches and when I got the phone call, I couldn't have been more excited.

Q: As the picks kept going today, were you starting to get worried that you might have to wait another day for this?

Bergstrom: Yeah, you always kind of have that worry. You have your family over at the house and it's always a little awkward when you have to tell them all, 'okay, come back tomorrow.' And I was just extremely lucky and fortunate to be called tonight.

Q: Tony, did you have any contact whatsoever with the Raiders over this entire process?

Bergstrom: Oh yeah, absolutely. I interviewed with them at the Senior Bowl, then again at the Combine. They saw me at all of those things so there was contact, there were interviews, there was plenty of that.

Q: Who did you talk to and what do you remember from those interviews?

Bergstrom: I talked to Coach Wisniewski, I believe, the assistant O-line coach. It was mostly, it was at the Combine, so it was mostly just trying to get in my head a little bit, have me draw some plays up, kind of get to know me more than anything. He kind of instilled in my mind that they're starting a new era with the Oakland Raiders and they have a whole new thing going. They're honoring the past and coming into the new system and a new time. So I'm excited to be a part of that.

Q: Do you see yourself as a zone-blocking type of offensive lineman?

Bergstrom: Absolutely. I've come from Utah, that was the scheme we ran, and zone was always our bread and butter. That was the first thing you have to establish. It keeps the defense honest. You can run it against any look they throw at you. You can run it into any blitz, so I'm a big believer in it and I feel like I can block it.

Q: You obviously played mostly tackle in college. What's that transition to guard going to be like?

Bergstrom: I mean, it's something I got to do. I already got a taste of it at the Senior Bowl. I played all right tackle through most of my college career, a little bit of left tackle. And went to the Senior Bowl and played only left guard. I've already had a bit of a taste for it and a little growing pains, as I'm sure there will be coming into this new league and switching positions, but it's something that came pretty naturally to me. It was fun, I'm not going to lie, you get inside, it's not so much finesse anymore, it's a little more gritty and I feel like I'm capable of making that transition.

Q: Did you know all along that you would probably make that transition?

Bergstrom: Yeah, I think most likely. There were some teams that I talked to that saw me as somebody that could play tackle and the Raiders, even talking to them, they said they think that I could play tackle, but I'd probably move into guard first. I kind of knew all along that I was going to be a guard first and maybe be able to play that backup tackle in the future or right away. I think guard is my position. I've already changed my mind set to guard, so that's what I'm thinking right now.

Q: You're going to be older than a lot of rookies because of your mission and I'm sure that some people might see that as a detriment. Do you see advantages to that life path as well?

Bergstrom: Absolutely. There are a lot of advantages, not just the path, to a lifestyle. So as far as the life path goes, I was fortunate enough, I actually served in the Sacramento area so I was right above you guys and I became pretty familiar with the area, but I was really fortunate to be able to have a weight set. I trained every morning, so I came back probably 50 pounds heavier and in much better shape than when I left. I think it gave me a good head start in college. As far as the lifestyle goes, I'm not one of those guys that go out and parties. I take recovery very seriously. You come to my house, I'm usually sitting on a foam roller or something. I have a wife and she won't let me get into any trouble. Physically, I feel like my body is as in good of shape as any 21-year old. I think it will last just as long because I take care of it.

Q: Do you feel like the time off from the wear and tear and all the hits of playing football, do you feel like that has got you physically health-wise ahead of most guys your age?

Bergstrom: High-school is a little different. High-school isn't quite as bad as college. And obviously, this time I've had just training for the Combine, pro-days and afterwards has been nice to try to take a break from the hitting and not having any spring ball, but yeah, that definitely helps. Giving your body some recovery time always helps.

Q: Are you a mechanical engineer or electrical engineer?

Bergstrom: Chemical.

Q: Do you have any particular areas of interest or areas of study within that?

Bergstrom: I did. I was kind of looking more into the petroleum area because I was thinking they make big oil, they make great money, right? But as I got into it further and further, I was more interested in the research side of thing, more going towards nano-technology kind of stuff, but I mean I'm not sure yet. There's a broad spectrum of things you can go in to.

Q: Have you talked to brother-in-law Paul yet? You have the Ravens on the schedule. Have you talked about that?

Bergstrom: That was the first thing we looked at, when are we playing each other? So I think we're playing in November in Baltimore, I believe. So that was something that was right quick. I was able to talk to Paul. He's always kind of been an Oakland fan, so he was pretty excited for me to go there.

Q: Where and for how long were you in the Sacramento area?

Bergstrom: I was there for two years, mostly in the South Sac area and then down in Stockton area.

Q: When you say that you've known for awhile that you would be moving into guard, was that based more on what you see as your talents and your physical abilities or what coaches and scouts had told you?

Bergstrom:  A little bit of both. I felt like I did well at tackle, but I mean, I'm a guy, I like to get my hand in the ground. I can do a two-point stance, but who wants to be in a two-point stance? There's no fun in that. I kind of like the idea of moving into guard and then I was just told by a lot of guys, a lot of NFL coaches, that they saw me doing that as well and having me kind of be a swing player that can do both.

Q: You said that during your mission you were able to work out a lot and you feel more mature now, would you say that because of that time you spent and your age and whatnot, that you're actually more ready to be perhaps a starter in the league?

Bergstrom: Yeah, absolutely. I think that always helps, having a little more maturity. I'm a guy that I'm no stranger to coming home and studying all day and spending time with the family instead of going out at night. So as soon as I get that playbook, I'm going right back into that lifestyle of just studying every day and doing my workouts whenever, morning I think. I think having that schedule that you get used to, I think that's a big part of maturity.

Q: When you dealt with the Raiders, when you had your interview, did you leave it thinking you aced it?

Bergstrom: I felt like I did pretty well. I answered all the questions fairly well. I felt like I was confident, but not arrogant, and all those things that they tell you at all the Combine-prep things. I felt like I did well, but I came out of every interview thinking that I did well and then going back over in my head just going, 'I have no idea.' Because you don't know what the coaches are thinking. They give you almost no feedback the whole time and you just hope you did well, but you never know.

Q: How much was having a brother-in-law in the league helpful through this process?

Bergstrom: He was a great help. It's something that, not just throughout this process, but in my senior year, I talked to him and he'd fill me in a lot on what it was in my game that needed to change and what NFL coaches were really looking for in college linemen. That was probably the biggest help from him was just every week just telling me what it is that I need to do to be more recognizable to NFL coaches.

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