Jason Trusnik was an undrafted free agent out of Division III Ohio Northern who not only made it to the NFL but has managed to carve out a nine-year career. In this, his ninth season and first with the Vikings, he can add one more thing to his résumé: He’s going to the playoffs for the first time. In advance of Sunday’s Vikings-Seahawks game, Trusnik chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q It’s unusual to go this deep into a career without getting a chance at the postseason. What does it feel like to be here right now?
A To come into this situation, I knew it was a great coaching staff that was doing some great things, so I was excited to be a part of that. Now to punch a ticket for the postseason, that’s the ultimate goal for a team. Obviously you want to win the Super Bowl, but the first job is getting there to give yourself a chance. And we did that as a team. Personally, it feels good to finally get there. You play all those years … to finally get that opportunity to get one step closer, it definitely feels good.
Q Those of us in the media have been talking about and making a lot of the weather and the expected frigid conditions Sunday. For a player, how can that impact a game?
A You have to stay focused. Whether you live in it and play in it or don’t live in it, at the end of the day you have to do your job. That’s offense, defense and special teams. Trust the guys next to you and don’t let the cold get to you. Obviously some things happen like turnovers just because of the weather, but you need to keep your focus. The team that can do that — eliminate mistakes and things like that — with the cold weather will win this game.
Q Cold-weather games historically tend to be lower-scoring with the possibility that two or three plays will swing the game. Is this a game where you feel that special teams, which has been your primary role, could play an even more significant role than usual?
A They are lower-scoring games and you never know what could happen. As far as special teams, you go out there for one play and that’s it. When you can create impact plays, whether it’s one long runback, one blocked punt, things like that, absolutely for a game that can be close in this kind of weather that could change the game. And that’s our job this week on special teams — do your job, and [try to] make a big play that gives us momentum and gets the crowd into it.
Q Ohio Northern’s nickname was the Polar Bears. Ridiculous question, but does that give you an edge in this cold-weather game?
A [laughs] No, no, it doesn’t give me an edge. But I did play in my fair share of cold-weather games.
Q Going from Division III to the spot you’re in right now, what has that journey been like?
A I haven’t completely reflected yet, which will probably come more when it’s all said and done. But just looking back at the journey, for me it’s been about continuing to play with a chip on my shoulder, coming from D-III and even playing a year or two [in the NFL]. Now it’s Year 9 and I’m in a playoff game. I’m honored. It’s a great feeling, and I’m part of a great organization right now with a great team.