Former Vienna Viking, Bernhard Raimann, talks about the amazing experience at NFL Training Camp with the Indianapolis Colts

Austria’s own Bernhard Raimann officially began his first National Football League training camp this past week.

The former Vienna Vikings player was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in this year’s NFL Draft. This past week, he sat down with the media in Indianapolis to answer questions. Naturally his goals as a player were of interest and the 6’6″, 300-pound offensive tackle answered emphatically:

“We’re trying to win a Superbowl here.” 

Raimann was selected in the third round which typically means he’ll easily make the final roster. However, that doesn’t make the adjustment easy for the former Vienna Viking. Going from watching the popular NFL show, ‘Hard Knocks’ on TV to living it is a “Whole other experience.” “It’s definitely a lot to take in,” he said to the media on Wednesday. Luckily for Bernhard though, he has plenty of veterans to learn from.

“I had to get hold of a playbook first and try to take everything in. But the coaches and other players have done an incredible job of helping me out over the summertime and now at the beginning of the fall camp. And then it’s just a learning curve every single day. But it’s on us to clean it up and get better every day. As coach always says, I’m not letting things overwhelm me and I’m trying to get better every day and that’s all I can do.”

One of those players helping is three-time Pro Bowl center, Ryan Kelly.

“When I first walked in the locker room, they really took me under their wing and showed me how they acted as pros,” the 24-year-old said when asked about the veteran presence. “But on the football side of it, some of those little things like keeping my head up, which starts in the stance, for example, which might seem like a little thing but as seasoned pros they see that right away. That has helped me really and on every single rep so far. Yeh, it’s incredible to learn from these guys.”

Ultimately, Raimann is a team player and is open to being moved around on the offensive line, “wherever the coaches need [him], [he’ll] be ready.” 

When asked about facing NFL defensive linemen, Raimann was blunt:

“Every single day, every single rep, it’s a challenge. And you either rise to the challenge or you crumble but every day is a learning experience and even if you make a mistake, the good thing is you get to come back the next day and take advantage of it and compete your butt off every single day.”

The young Austrian has to take on one the top rushers in the NFL, Yannick Ngokoue, every day and to him it’s amazing:

“It’s a huge honor to go up against one of the elite pass rushers in the league. Getting to compete against him every single day is incredible. Sometimes he gets the best of us, but it only gets us better as pass protectors and it’s only going to get us ready for the season.”

The rookie left tackle says he has moved around a little but wherever the coaches need him he will be ready. However, training camp is an entirely new world for Raimann:

“I had some expectations going into camp. You watch ‘Hard Knocks’ and stuff like other teams going through training camp but then actually being the one practicing in front of, you know last weekend we practiced in front of 15,000 people, that’s just a whole different experience. It’s awesome to see how the community comes out and supports us. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It really makes you feel very special as a player.”

It has been an amazing journey for Raimann. He was born in Steinbrunn, Austria and started playing football with the Vienna Vikings’ youth team. However, during his junior year of high school, he signed up to be an exchange student in the United States. In his application, when asked what his future career would be, Raimann wrote “NFL player.” It was that little detail he says, that got him selected by the family of former Central Michigan player Rollie Ferris living in Delton, Michigan. During his time there he grew close to his host family and in fact they came down to watch practice recently.

“My host family came down and watched practice last week. That’s always fun. We try to stay close. We laugh a lot about me making it here because when I was 16 years old I wrote ‘NFL Player’ on the form where it asked what will your job be when you get older. My host mom still brings it up because back then I kinda knew but they brought me into their family because they loved sports.”

After his year abroad, Raimann served his compulsory military service in Austria. After his time in the military, Raimann decided he was going to commit to Central Michigan to continue his football journey. There, he’d be joining a member of his host family, Tyden Ferris. 

Bernhard started his tenure with the Chippewas as a tight end. He racked up just north of 160 yards in two seasons. After his sophomore year though, the coaches thought that Bernhard could be better utilized on the offensive line. That’s when the 300-pounder began to shine. He started all six games (shortened due to covid) of his junior year. In his senior year his performance improved to that point that Pro Football Focus named him their Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year, punching him a ticket to the NFL Combine. 

At the combine, Bernhard balled out and was widely regarded as a top five offensive lineman in the draft. When the draft began, however, Raimann began to slip down the board. After being predicted to be a top 20 pick, he was not selected until the third round by the Colts with the 77th pick. 

And it would seem, the Colts are pretty happy with their choice.

A current student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jordan grew up playing football. He began writing in high school after creating his own website and hopes to continue his pursuit for a career in sports media.