Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie sat down with Lowell Cohen of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat this week and talked at length about his life growing up before football and since. Among those statements that were interesting was when he described himself as a football player and said he was the kind of player he looks at drafting.
Here is some of what he had to say:
"I would say [I was a] good solid football player B-minus, C-plus. A good solid football player. I thought from an overall career, that's what I'd give myself. A couple of years, I thought I was a B player.
"The qualities I thought I brought to the table were - this is just outside of numbers - my football intelligence, instincts were good. I thought my ability to learn was really good. I thought my work ethic, my toughness were good. From a physical standpoint, I thought I was a power player. I played with good strength. I played the game physical. I thought I was an above average athlete in regards to speed, quickness, explosiveness. I was better than average but I don't think I was special in speed, quickness, even size. I was just solid 6-2, 244 pound linebacker. I wasn't nothing special when you see a 6-3, 6-4, 255 that runs 4.5. I wasn't one of those guys."
To read this interview in it's entirety, Click here.
On the field, guys like fourth round pick, Miles Burris, fifth round pick, Juron Criner, and seventh round pick Nathan Stupar are very much like Reggie. None of them are the fastest players and may not be considered the most athletically gifted but they work very hard and give supreme effort. They also are known as having high character.
When McKenzie talks about his life growing up and his parents and siblings, it become obvious that his value in a player like himself goes far beyond the field. His mother was a preschool teacher and his father was a social worker. He and his siblings had the right values instilled in them and it has served all of them quite well.
Reggie and his brother Raleigh both played in the NFL and their other brother is a research scientist. His father still lives in the home in which his family grew up in Knoxville Tennessee.
These ideals also appear to exist in the draft picks the Raiders made this year. As was noted after the draft; each player the Raiders drafted had something in their bios that showed them to be religious and/or philanthropic individuals. And all of them had great passion.
Third round pick, Tony Bergstrom, is older than some draftees because he went on a Mormon mission out of high school. Fourth round pick, Miles Burris, proposed marriage to his high school sweetheart the day after he was drafted. Fifth round pick, Jack Crawford, and sixth round pick Christo Bilukidi both started playing football late in high school, showing great work ethic and a quick learning curve.
McKenzie didn't have a long career in the NFL. He played just four seasons before he was lost to an ACL and MCL tear. His brother, Raleigh, who is now a college scout for the Raiders, played 16 seasons as an offensive lineman. There is every reason to think Reggie would have had a long career if it weren't for his injury. But even so, his education and strong character has him entering his 19th season in an NFL front office.
If McKenzie found some guys like him in this year's draft and can find more in future, the Raiders should be in pretty good hands.