At 26 years of age, Raiders new rookie offensive guard, Tony Bergstrom, is a bit older than most rookies. As is often the case for Mormon recruits, he took time off after high school to go on his Mormon mission. And according to him, the path he chose and his advanced age actually helped him as a player.
"There's been a lot of advantages, not just for the path but to the style." Says Bergstrom. "As far as the life path goes, I was fortunate enough, I actually served in the Sacramento area, right above you guys, and became pretty familiar with the area. I was really fortunate to be able to have a weight set. I trained every morning, so I came back probably 50 pounds and in much better shape than when I left. So, that gave me a good head start in college."
"As far as the lifestyle goes, I'm not one of those guys who goes out and parties. I take recovery very seriously. If you come to my house, I'm usually sitting on a foam roller or something. I have a wife; she won't let me get into any trouble. Physically, I feel like my body is as in as good a shape as any 20- or 21-year-old, and it will last just as long because I take care of it.
"I think that always helps, having a little bit 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. As soon as I get my playbook I'm going back to that lifestyle of just studying every day and doing my workouts. I think having that schedule that you get used to that's kind of a big part of maturity.
He also insists the two years of time off between high school and college gave his body some beneficial recovery time.
"High school is not quite as bad as college. Obviously the time that I've had just training for the Combine and pro days and afterward has been nice, to kind of take a break from the hitting, not having any spring ball. That definitely helps. Giving your body some recovery time always helps.
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie sees the advantage to having a player who is a bit older and grounded as well.
"From a maturity standpoint, where he is - him being married, having a child." Said McKenzie. "Is that a hindrance because he's a little older, knocking off years of his prime and all that? No. Especially from a physical standpoint. Medically, that's the only issue, if age and medical was the issue, but that's no issue. No. We like that fact. That won't be an issue."