I've always enjoyed being a writer for Daily Norseman, but days like today make me truly appreciate how lucky I am to write here. Every once in a while, they let me pretend to be an actual member of the media!
Yours truly was able to procure an interview with Vikings Guard Anthony Herrera to talk a little bit about the season and the upcoming game against the Bears on Sunday. The interview was made possible by the good folks at Prilosec, who you'll recognize from their weekly "Victory Of The Week" sponsored posts here. (And after Sunday's game, I think we all need a little heartburn relief!) Be sure to check out Anthony's page over on the Prilosec OTC site. Here's a transcript of our interview:
Daily Norseman: Thanks for taking some time out of your day. Let's talk about the week this team had last week. We had stories about Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Childress with his job security and his blowup with Percy Harvin--this past week and this season as a whole have to be unlike any other you've experienced during your time in the NFL, right?
Anthony Herrera: Um, not really. You know I've been in the league since 2004 and I was around when Randy was here before. I was here when he was traded under Coach [Mike] Tice, so I've been through a couple things, a little bit up here. So at the end of the day I think that's more the media being what the media is, doing what they do, and fans speaking out, but at the end of the day we gotta go out and play a football game on Sunday. Nobody's coming between those lines during those 60 minutes to help us or help beat us or anything like that. We have to focus, go out there, do the best job we can, and get a W.
DN: So how do you personally and the rest of the offensive line deal with all the distractions? Is it just nothing but business on the field and you just focus on the task at hand?
AH: Yeah that's it man, it's just business for us. You always hear what's going on but we try to stay away from that. You go out there, you go to work, you get your job done, you study your film, get to know your opponent, get to know your defense, know what your coaches are asking you to do. At the end of the week that's all you focus on--it's the NFL, you get paid to be a professional.DN: So let's get right into it and talk a little bit about why you're here with us today with Prilosec OTC's Living Proof campaign.
AH: [Loudly] YES SIR!
DN: Give us a little insight into your training regimen and how your daily battle with heartburn affects it.
AH: Basically what it is, well, I love to eat spicy foods, and over the past couple of years my heartburn has been getting a lot worse. We tried a lot of different things to get that stuff taken care of, but it just kept coming back, kept coming back. Eventually one of our team doctors told me about Prilosec OTC and I gave that a try. It turned out working very well for me. You know, you go into work, you eat your lunch, and you go into practice. And while you're out there practicing you're out there doing your job to the best level that you can, and it's kind of hard to do when your chest is hurting and you're feeling that heartburn sensation. It's hard to move around and block 300 pound guys with that going on. So we tried Prilosec OTC and it ended up working out very well for me. It really does work. So they got with my agency and they were doing the Living Proof campaign. They asked me if I was willing to do it and I said of course, no problem. It was a chance for me to go out there, and you know, help people and educate them about heartburn and let them know that hey there's a product out here that actually works. It's not just the commercial.
DN: So with Prilosec OTC does it help you get ready for game day? Do you have to watch what you eat a little less these days?
AH: Basically that's what it comes down to. Before when the heartburn was really a problem, I'd have to watch what I'd eat on that Saturday, and really starting that Friday night you'd have to watch what you're eating. But with Prilosec OTC it offers 24 hour protection, and it really does it. So I don't have to worry about dealing with heartburn or anything like that. I can eat whatever I want and I know Prilosec's protecting me. [Ed. note: I'd say Prilosec signed quite a pitch man!]
DN: So let's talk about the game this past Sunday. Things looked pretty grim until late in the game. You guys were moving the ball at will most of the time, but you only had ten points to show for it until those two late touchdowns. Was anything said in the huddle that sparked the comeback, like "hey guys, this our season right here", or was it just simply finishing off the drives?
AH: I would say it was just finishing off the drives. We were moving the ball up and down the field at will, and then you know you're getting into the red zone and you're not getting any points out of it, or for whatever reason the drives stalled. We were taking the ball from our side of the field to their side, and that's what the game was for the majority of the 60 minutes. The defense went out there and did their thing, they got us a chance back after [the Cardinals] stopped us on the 4th and 1. I think nothing was really needed to be said. Everyone knew that the season was on the line, and everyone went out there and we performed to the best of our abilities man, and we got it done.
DN: I've gotta ask about that play in overtime, the quick slant to Bernard Berrian that got you guys into field goal range. Was that set up as a run play? It looked like you and the rest of the offensive line were pulling to the left there.
AH: Yeah it was a run play to the left, but we also have certain built-in schemes in there. You know, maybe hey the defense is giving you off coverage to the receiver to that side. So why not instead of smashing it in for four yards why not get that quick pop in and do just like Bernard did and take it down there for about 20 yards? We have built-in hot reads, so even if it's a run play there's no need to smash it into ten guys when this guy over here is getting off coverage.
DN: So how often do you think that happens on average during the course of a game?
AH: Ahh, a couple times throughout the game. Three or four more or less. You don't want to make a habit out of it. You don't want to make a living out of that. But it keeps the defense honest. Now that they know they can't just put everybody in the box, because OK, Brett's just gonna give a signal with the wide receiver.
DN: While Sunday's win was definitely exciting and obviously much needed, you're still in third in the NFC North. But you have one of the teams you currently trail, the Bears, in Chicago on Sunday. How are you preparing for that Bears defense and the likes of Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher?
AH: It's the same thing man, just a different team, different week. It's 1/16th of the season. We're not looking where we are in the NFC North right now. This stretch of games we have is all NFC games, so if we go out there and take care of our business every game we'll be where we wanna be. As far as preparing for them, it's just knowing that you're going to be playing against an aggressive, blitzing type of defense that's gonna strip the ball every chance they get. They're gonna get after your quarterback and make you be sound and do what you have to do. You've gotta be patient and drive that field. Take care of the football.
DN: Are there any players on Chicago that you as an offensive lineman have to account for on each play?
AH: I would say Tommie more than likely, Tommie Harris. The majority of the time he's usually over on my side. The majority of the time he's the over tackle so he's over me a lot of the time. It's just going out there man and knowing what Coach and them are asking you to do and doing that to the best of your abilities no matter who the players across from you are. As long as you do that, hopefully everything else will take care of itself.
DN: So what's it like blocking for someone like Adrian Peterson? Are there still plays that amaze you, or are you just kind of used to it by now?
AH: Well I'd say I'm used to it. Playing with a player of that caliber, you know, I was fortunate enough to go to school at the University of Tennessee and we had some pretty good running backs come through there. Seeing a guy with Adrian Peterson's talents, you know, I'm accustomed to that, but he still amazes you sometimes. His heart and dedication, his will to win, he goes out there and lays it on the line every play.
DN: How have you seen the development of Toby Gerhart come along as a rookie? It seems like he's getting a lot more snaps and picking up the offense and blocking schemes pretty quickly.
AH: Yeah I think since he got drafted in the second round, everyone was expecting another Adrian Peterson to come in there and just make a full impact right away. But that's not it. He's a different type of player. But you can see that every week he's getting better. He's understanding what we're asking of him. He's picking up the blitzes very well, and there are certain plays that he runs very well right now. He's doing very good man, he's getting better and better each week and that's all you can ask of him.
DN: I realize you have other interviews coming up today, but before I go, I do have to ask, how often do you get compared to Rick Ross? I've never seen the two of you in the same room together so I'm not entirely convinced you aren't the same person.
AH: [Laughs] I don't know man, I guess people see the beard and bald head, and automatically they go with that comparison. It's alright. I really think Rick Ross looks more like me than anything.
I'm just saying.
DN: So are you a fan of his music? Have you ever met him?
AH: No I've never met him before, but I am a huge fan of his music. Me being from Naples, Florida, him being from Miami, you know I gotta support all the guys from my state. But yeah I'm a huge fan of his, and maybe we can get him on the sidelines for one of the home games this season. He's friends with one of my teammates, so we'll get him up here and I'll say what's up.
DN: Well Anthony, I appreciate your time, anything else you want to say before we go?
AH: Yeah I wanted to let you guys know that you can go to PrilosecOTC.com and check out my Living Proof campaign.
DN: Absolutely. Thanks again for your time, best of luck on Sunday and the rest of the season. We'll be watching!
AH: Alright thank you very much.
Thanks again to Anthony for taking the time to talk with us, and thanks to everyone at Prilosec OTC for setting it up. He was great to talk to and made the interview really easy. And not to spoil the surprise, but I might just have another interview two weeks from today with a certain Minnesota rookie running back!