EAGLES OFFENSIVE lineman Stefen Wisniewski is exactly the sort of player that NFL general managers and coaches adore. He has pedigree, wits, and wit.
Wisniewski landed this spring in Philadelphia as a 27-year-old free agent with the ability to play both guard positions, but had gotten 62 of his 77 career starts at center. Then again, the trenches are in his blood.
His father, Leo, went to the Colts as a second-round pick in 1982 and played nose tackle. His uncle, Steve, went to the Cowboys as a second-round pick in 1989 and made eight Pro Bowl teams as a guard for the Raiders. Both starred at Penn State, as did Stefen two decades later. He was a first-team All-America as a senior and a three-time Academic All-America.
It followed that Stefan should also become a second-round pick, with the Raiders. He played solidly in Oakland for four years, signed with Jacksonville in 2015, then came to Philly.
Here, he lost a battle with Allen Barbre to start at left guard, but he bided his time, filling special-teams roles, confident he would get his chance. Sure enough, injuries forced him into the starting lineup in three of the past four games. He will get a fourth start Sunday in Cincinnati.
Marcus Hayes recently snagged Wisniewski and quizzed him on relevant topics such as Brexit, Seinfeld, and his personal Black Hole theory.
What's it like to be worshipped by fans who populate the zone at Oakland Coliseum called "the Black Hole?" Do you feel happy for them, and for some of your former teammates, who might soon be moving to Las Vegas?
I've spoken to some Black Hole members. Yeah . . . Raider Nation is pretty awesome. They're really passionate fans. It was fun to play there for four years. They're the kind of fans - you want them on your side. I'm definitely happy for a lot of those guys, especially [quarterback] Derek Carr.
As far as the move . . . Vegas seems like a pretty good fit for the Raiders, given the renegade image of the franchise.
Jacksonville has become England's Team in Residence and is considered one of the NFL's less popular franchises. You played there last year and went with them to London, during the Brexit debate. Your thoughts?
I enjoyed being a Jaguar. The ownership, the GM, the head coach there - I really liked their vision and their plan to build the team. I thought they'd have won more games this year [the Jags are 2-9]. They have a lot of good pieces in place they need for the future to be really good.
I actually went to England once with Oakland and once with Jacksonville. I have some comments on Brexit . . . I don't know why anyone would want to hear my comments on it.
I will say I agree with their decision to get out of [the European Union]. That was a good decision for them in the long run.
Do you get called Wiz? Are you a fan of Seinfeld? Are you familiar with the old ad campaign, "Nobody beats the Wiz?"
Pretty much everybody calls me that. I am a Seinfeld fan. I love that episode. It's really funny.
That's kind of a vain statement, kind of a prideful statement. I try to stay away from saying that about myself.
Clearly, playing through injuries has affected your ability to land long-term deals. I believe a torn shoulder labrum sabotaged your contract year in 2014. True?
I actually did it my rookie year, then again my fourth year. Both times on the left shoulder. It hurt a lot. Lost a lot of strength. I was able to play through it both times, but it made it a lot harder to block people.
What's it like to be a Wisniewski from Penn State, especially now that the team is in the Big Ten championship game? Is everything in your home blue and white?
Penn State is a huge part of my life. Not only did my dad and uncle play there, my mom went there, aunts, my sister - we have a lot of people with Penn State degrees. All at the State College campus. That's a special place for us. Definitely a lot of blue and white in my house.
I get back for games whenever I can. I'm really proud of those guys, what they've done this year. When we get back we always hit the Waffle Shop.