Iowa Football

Q&A: Tristan Wirfs reflects on an unforgettable rookie season ahead of Super Bowl

'I take a lot of pride' in blocking for Tom Brady

Former Mount Vernon and Iowa and offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs gestures at the end of an NFL wild-card playoff footbal
Former Mount Vernon and Iowa and offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs gestures at the end of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Washington Football Team on Jan. 9 in Landover, Md. Wirfs will play in the Super Bowl Sunday, protecting quarterback Tom Brady from his tackle position. (Associated Press)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs is preparing to play on the NFL’s biggest stage.

A former Mount Vernon High School and Iowa standout, he’s not the only former Hawkeye who will take the field Sunday in Tampa, Fla., when the Bucs face the Kansas City Chiefs. But his journey is a path less traveled by most NFL veterans, let alone rookies.

As he prepares to suit up for the Super Bowl, Wirfs reflected on the unusual NFL season and how he got there.

Q: How was the adjustment from Iowa to the NFL during training camp?

A: I’d say there were times it was a tough transition. It reminded me of my freshman year at Iowa. You come from high school where you are the big dog, my freshman year, my teammate, Anthony Nelson, down here was beating me up. You get to be the big dog in college and now I’m blocking the sack leader (Shaquil Barrett) in the NFL a year ago. It really humbles you and you’ve really got to focus on the details and the little things. Blocking Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, all it did was help me and make me better. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I needed that, not having a lot of offseason stuff. Once you settle in, it ends up being OK.

Q: How did you feel going into your first NFL game after not having a preseason?

A: I was nervous, but I wasn’t too nervous to where I was psyching myself out. I think it’s good to be nervous and if you’re not, you’re lying to yourself or you’re not prepared.

Q: What’s it like blocking for Tom Brady?

A: It’s been pretty awesome. At the beginning, just seeing him and being in the huddle, I was star-struck a little bit. I just wanted to treat him as a teammate. I take a lot of pride in doing my best to keep his jersey clean on Sundays.

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It was funny, I remember during camp, he told the tackles: “Don’t get beat fast and don’t get beat inside and we’ll be all right.”

I’ve thought about that a lot and I’ve done my best. He will tell me to do specific things on a specific day, but little things.

Q: What has been your favorite memory so far this season?

A: I got a lot of crap for it, but people thought it was funny. I was running into the end zone and Gronk spiked it and I flinched.

 

Q: What stadium were you most excited about playing in?

A: I was excited about playing at Lambeau. I think everything about that, playing in Lambeau and it being the NFC Championship Game. It didn’t snow the whole game, but I remember I woke up in the morning and it was snowing.

Q: What are your offseason plans?

A: I’ll definitely go home, I don’t know when. I’ve got to do my rookie dinner for the O-line whenever we’re able to. I have to take the O-line out and buy them all food and drinks. It’s something all the rookie O-linemen have done over the years.

Q: What does it mean to represent your hometown on the biggest stage in the NFL?

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A: It means a lot to me. I love Mount Vernon and I am super proud from that town. The support from high school to college has been unreal. It’s cool to know I have the whole town, but hopefully I have the whole state, behind me. I’m just excited to play in the Super Bowl and excited to get out there and be home and see all my friends and family.

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