By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at 2:53 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Dave Tollefson, the newest Raider, arrived in Alameda today, got in his first workout and then took a few minutes to discuss things such as what he brings to the equation, what it’s like returning to the Raiders and the key to being sucessful.
Tollefson will wear No. 58, which suggests the Raiders envision him as an outside linebacker. Don’t be fooled by the number. Tollefson is versatile enough to help out at linebacker, defensive end, defensive tackle, as well as special teams.
As evidenced by this 10-minute question-and-answer session, Tollefson also has a firm grasp on the nuances of the NFL, the Raiders history and Jim Carrey’s movie career.
Here is the entire transcript:
Q: What have the Raiders told you about how you’re going to be used?
A: “It’s just a jack-of-all trades is what I’ve been able to kind of hang my hat on. They haven’t promised me anything, which is what I want. I don’t want to be promised anything. That’s not the style of player that I am. There’s an opportunity to play, whether that’s starting or a backup, a rush guy or a guy that can play the edge in the run. So, it’s going to be a little bit of everything, which is what I love to do.”
Q: What’s it like coming back home?
A: “Well, it’s awesome. To grow up here, I lived here for 22 years, to come back home where my mom, my step-dad are out here, my sister, my brother, a lot of my friends. My phone was blowing up as soon as this thing went public. It’s definitely exciting for me and my family.”
Q: How hard was it to leave the Raiders in 2007?
A: “It was definitely tough. The Raiders (allowed) me to continue my career in the NFL by sending me to Europe and putting me on the practice squad. There’s a debt there that I feel I like I never really got to repay after leaving. So, it’s kind of funny how life works. You get an opportunity to come back to someplace like this and kind of really show them that you appreciate the opportunity that they gave you.”
Q: How much did it help you learning under the likes of Strahan, Umenyiora and Tuck?
A: “It’s huge, man. To be the best, you got to be around the best, to be surrounded by people that are successful for yourself to be successful. They’re a great group of guys. That period of time was really special. I just got here today and got my first workout in today. There’s a group of guys here that can play ball up front, too, which is exciting to see. I’m not quite an old, wily vet yet, I got a few good years left in me, but I’ve seen quite a bit in this league. We got a group of guys here that can do some big things, also. I look back fondly on my time with those guys. It was special, for sure, but you can’t dwell on the past. You got to keep moving forward and make it the future.”
Q: What kind of lessons can you bring to this team?
A: “I don’t know much, but there’s a few things that I do know. One of them is, getting in the tournament. You have to have a chance. If you’re not in the tournament, which is playoffs, when I say that, you don’t have a chance. I always like to quote my favorite movie, ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ when she was asking, ‘What are the chances that a girl like me and a guy like you can be together? And she says, ‘One in a million.’ Jim Carrey says, ‘So, you’re saying there’s a chance?’ Just have the opportunity to play for a title, get in the playoffs, that’s all you need. Then you take it one game at a time and the next thing you know, you’re hoisting up the Lombardi trophy. There’s no secret to winning championships. It’s just a matter of doing the work and when it comes to playoffs time, taking advantage of the opportunities.”
Q: How do you think you fit with the Raiders’ defensive schemes?
Tollefson: I think it’s the multiplicity of different things I can do as a player. I’ve played a lot of snaps inside. Will I do that here? I’m not sure, we’ve got a great group of D-tackles that can do a really good job inside. So who knows? I think that’s what intrigued the Raiders about me was the ability to kind of do everything. And that’s something that you have to do as a guy who hasn’t necessarily started in this league, started a couple of games, but you kind of got to be good at everything because you really don’t know when the opportunity is going to come for you to contribute to the team winning a game. I think that’s what hopefully they’re going to use me for, kind of, whatever, what do you need me to do? I can even mow the grass if you want to.
Q: Establish any relationships here that still endure to this day?
Tollefson. It was great to see the equipment guys again. When you’re an old practice squad guy you get close to those guys like that. It was good to see them again. Some of the front office guys, I remember. When I left here, it was kind of like, it was a like a secret mission and left in the middle of the night. It was such a quick stop here. There is a mutual amount of respect throughout the league amongst players, so there is a bunch of guys that I do know that I played against that I do have a lot of respect for so that comes into play.
Q: What would you say was deciding factor for choosing Oakland?
Tollefson: Obviously I have that relationship with Reggie McKenzie being drafted by Green Bay, so the level of comfort to come in here knowing this organization is heading in the right direction with the guys they brought in to run it, coach Allen, I got to meet him on my visit here and the energy that he brings, it’s exciting, and obviously, I’m from here. I grew up a Raiders fan. My mom is a Raiders fan. Obviously she’s a fan of her son, but if you ask her who her favorite team is she’s going to say the Raiders. There’s something special about playing for the team that you grew up watching and where you grew up. It means a lot to me that they believe in me, that’s a big part of it. Again, I just go back to the excitement here. Guys are excited to play football, talk football and get ready.
Q: Difficulty here stopping the run for several years, what’s the key to a defense stopping the run?
Tollefson: You’ve got to be physical, and I think sometimes run defense can be overshadowed by the want to get sacks because they are such big game-changing plays. But you’ve got to earn the right to rush the passer and the way you do that is by stopping the run. That’s going to be a focus of mine no matter what, and I think it will be the guys up front. You’ve got to do it up front. Obviously, the linebackers are named linebackers because they back the line, and if the guys up front aren’t getting the job done, it doesn’t matter who you have behind you. It’s definitely going to be a focus of ours, to stop the run, because if you can’t stop the run, you can’t even start thinking about getting sacks because they’ll just run the ball all day on you.
Q: No more questions?
Tollefson: Go Ygnacio Valley Warriors.