Raiders defensive lineman Dave Tollefson, who officially signed with Oakland on Saturday after five years with the New York Giants, credited his relationship with new general manager Reggie McKenzie, who drafted him as a seventh-rounder in 2006 for Green Bay, as a main reason for his choosing to return to the East Bay.Tollefson is a Walnut Creek native who played high school ball at Ygnacio Valley High and is a former member of the Raiders practice squad."So there's a level of comfort coming here, knowing that this organization is headed in the right direction with the guys he brought in to run it," Tollefson said of McKenzie in a conference call Tuesday with Bay Area media. "Coach (Dennis) 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 were to ask her who her favorite team is, she's going to say the Raiders. So, there's something special about playing for the team 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."Tollefson said the Raiders jumpstarted his NFL career."There's a debt there that I feel like I really got to repay after leaving," he said. "Kind of funny how life works, you know? You get opportunities to come back to someplace like this and kind of show them that you appreciate the opportunity that they gave you."Since leaving Oakland, Tollefson picked up a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Giants. But he never forgot his roots, so to speak."It was great to see the equipment guys," Tollefson said. "I mean, when you're an old practice squad guy you tend to get close to those guys like that and it was good to see them. Some of the front office guys I remember but when I left here it was kind of like it, felt like it was a secret mission; I 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've played against that I have a lot of respect for so it comes into play."It's awesome. I mean, I grew up here, I lived here for 22 years, come back home, my mom and my step-dad are out here, my sister, my brother and a lot of my childhood friends. My phone was blowing up as soon as this thing went public. So, it's definitely exciting for me and my family."And in case you doubted his loyalty, this is how he ended the call: "Hey, go Ygnacio Valley Warriors."
Signing with Raiders a homecoming for Tollefson
April 10, 2012, 10:23 pm