NEW YORK — This was exactly how Stefen Wisniewski wanted it to turn out.
The former Penn State offensive lineman didn’t care about adding to the considerable pressure that already existed with being an NFL player. He didn’t care if every move he made would be compared to someone with the same last name, who excelled not only at the same position but also on the same team, and who would help guide him as a pro on a daily basis.
Wisniewski hoped to join the Raiders, following in the cleat prints that his uncle, Steve, now an assistant offensive line coach on the team for which he was an eight-time Pro Bowl guard during 13 seasons (1989-2001). That wish came true Friday night when the Raiders made Stefen their second-round choice, 48th overall, in the NFL draft.
Stefen, who can play guard and center, couldn’t think of a better model after which to pattern his NFL career than his uncle. The younger Wisniewski got to see his uncle play for the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders until he was a teenager. He admired the highly aggressive (many called it dirty) manner in which his uncle played, and he now makes a concerted effort to duplicate Steve’s reputation for finishing blocks and playing with nasty attitude.
And Stefen learned plenty from many conversations he had with his uncle about what it took to have longevity in the NFL.
Wisniewski said before the draft that he “couldn’t think of a better guy to work for.” There was no reason to doubt him because he already has been down the legacy road. His uncle and his father, Leo, both played football at Penn State. Leo was a nose tackle for the Nittany Lions and had a brief NFL career.
“Walking down the hallway, my uncle’s picture is real big up there on the wall, my dad’s up there, so I got constant reminders of what they’ve done,” Wisniewski said. “I used to to motivate me, to match or exceed what they’ve done.”
Once he starts practicing with the Raiders, he won’t need to stare at photos for motivation anymore. He’ll have the real thing staring right back at him.
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