Raider fans at the 2010 Raider Nation Celebration (photo by Levi Damien)
The Raiders had some competition for the services of linebacker Philip Wheeler. But he chose the Raiders due to several factors. Those factors were the scheme, the coaches with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver specifically, and quite possibly the most important tool: the fans.
"I don't know I think it was like 2,000 [new Twitter followers]." said Wheeler. "It was cool man, because that kind of helped me in my decision because it showed me how big of a football city this is and how much they paid attention to football instead of going somewhere else. Indianapolis, it was pretty good football city, but the fans, they didn't get more involved in media, and just showing us how much they care about the game. I always wanted to play in a big football city for a legendary team, something like that and that kind of helped me choose Oakland."
There is something to be said for "planting seeds". That is what Raiders new defensive coordinator did with Raiders new linebacker Philip Wheeler many years ago.
"I did know one of the coaches, prior [to today]; the Senior Bowl when I was coming out of college, coach Tarver. I talked to him on the phone before I signed and that kind of helped make my decision. He knows my ability and everything. That's one coach I already knew. I feel like this is the best situation for me. I think, these coaches here, they were pretty adamant about the way they're running their defenses. It's a defensive head coach, he has a defensive mind, I wanted to come to a place that would take defense a little more serious.
"Coach Tarver told me there was going to be a lot of blitzing, just a lot of mixing up things, not just standing still in Cover 2 like I did in with the Indianapolis Colts for awhile... But I also like to rush the passer and everything from the linebacker position and coach Tarver told me that it would be some of that going on.
"This defense is catered to linebackers and specifically the way I play, I think. It feels good to be around other good linebackers. It seems like it's already a decent linebacking corps here, a pretty good linebacking corps. They're young, just like myself so I feel this would be a great opportunity to build something here. As far as my decision, I had my choice to go to a couple other teams, Miami was one of ‘em. It was a hard decision, but it was a better fit for me here because of the type of defense and the type of scheme they're running here and the type of coaches they got here."