Shane Lechler Interview...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Shane Lechler

Thursday, August 3, 2006 1:17 AM PDT

Editor's Note: This is a special edition of "Time Out" with Oakland Raiders players who came from small towns to become NFL players. These editions will run throughout August while the Raiders are in Napa for training camp. This week, punter Shane Lechler is featured. Lechler, who has been in the NFL since 2000 -- all as a Raider -- is from East Bernard, Texas (population 1,729). Lechler's high school graduating class was 52 people.

D'Adamo: What was it like for you growing up in a small town?

Lechler: It was fun, especially when it came to playing sports. It was unbelievable. We had a real tight group. The movie "Friday Night Lights" doesn't do it justice. It was amazing. The town shut down at 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. I'm talking about banks and everything. Everybody was always ready for the Friday night game.

D'Adamo: What position did you play on your high school team?

Lechler: Quarterback and outside linebacker. I also punted, kicked and returned punts.

D'Adamo: Which other sports did you play besides football?

Lechler: I played baseball, basketball, track and golf.

D'Adamo: How much did you enjoy playing multiple sports instead of specializing in just one?

Lechler: I enjoyed it because I always knew when one season ended, the other was beginning. I always had something to do every day. I don't know what I would have done with myself without sports because my schedule was so tight with them. I enjoyed that and the competition.

D'Adamo: Did you find that it was difficult to get recognized as a small-town athlete?

Lechler: That all depends. (The Texas A & M head football coach) came and checked me out as a junior. Everybody, I believe, gets the letters from the (various) colleges. I started early in my high school career. I started getting recognized and I started getting serious. For me, it wasn't that big of a deal.

D'Adamo: In one respect, do you find that people, whether it be scouts or otherwise, have a prejudice against small-town athletes?

Lechler: I do, because they don't agree with the competition that they're playing against. That's just part of growing up in a small town. Guys get overlooked. There will be a dozen kids that deserve a shot but they'll get overlooked because of where they play or what location they're in. That's unfortunate.

D'Adamo: What was it like when you left East Bernard, Texas, when you really discovered there was another world outside of your small-town bubble? How much did you have to mature both personally and athletically?

Lechler: It wasn't really as hard for me because the atmosphere was similar to my high school. The support of the town was similar because in College Station (Texas), you're playing in front of 75,000 people every Saturday. We'd get as many people in our high school stadium as we could and as many as we can at Kyle Field. I was only an hour and a half from home. If I ever needed to get away on a Sunday, I could always drive home.

D'Adamo: Once you got to Texas A & M, how much harder did you have to work for your success?

Lechler: I understood it greatly. I was recruited as what they call an "athlete." I went in as a quarterback and punter. I was trying to play quarterback at that level and the terminology was overwhelming compared to where I had come from. That kind of got the best of me. I grew impatient with it. Luckily, I was one of the guys that had an out. I was able to go in and punt.

D'Adamo: What advice would you give to small-town athletes in say St. Helena or Calistoga regardless of whether they go on to play sports?

Lechler: I would play as many different sports as you can and get involved in everything you can. There will be friends that you make that you'll keep for life.

D'Adamo: When you grow up in a small town, whether it's sports or community-related stuff, how much of a oneness or togetherness do you feel?

Lechler: It was unbelievable. I knew everybody in town. You could have probably eaten dinner at anybody's house on any given night. The community was so together and had each other's back. It was a lot of fun.

D'Adamo: Do you find that you have an even greater appreciation for what you have since small-town kids have more to overcome?

Lechler: I was just thinking about that on the drive up to Napa, just how far I've come from East Bernard, Texas. It's been a true blessing. I've gotten to see a bunch of places, play in a bunch of stadiums and play in front of millions of people. Over my seven years, it's outstanding to be able to look back where I came from. It's hard not to give yourself a little pat on the back.

D'Adamo: What would you be doing if you were not playing professional football?

Lechler: I'd be coaching, no doubt.

D'Adamo: So is coaching in your future after you hang it up?

Lechler: It just depends on how long I can hang in here. If it turns out to be a long career, we'll see.

D'Adamo: Lastly, what do you enjoy most about coming to Napa for training camp?

Lechler: I like it because it's a smaller town. There's a lot of things you can do to get away from the facility. You've got great places to eat. You've got Rutherford Grill, Brix, and Mustard's.

There's great places to eat and great places to go. It's a part of the country that not everyone gets to see. I know it's unfortunate because this is training camp and you kind of lose the enjoyment of it, but it's also a good time, too.
Another late round pick that we hit on the nose. I would hate to see our record without him on our team....nice guy to boot.
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