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Bernhard Seikovits Tries Not To Get Crazy About Wait

New rules give international tight end extra flexibility to stick with Cardinals

Tight end Bernhard Seikovits is headed into his fourth season as a player in the International Pathway program.
Tight end Bernhard Seikovits is headed into his fourth season as a player in the International Pathway program.

Every morning, Trey McBride sees fellow tight end Bernhard Seikovits and offers a cheery "Guten Morgen."

It's an effort to use some of the German language Seikovits – an Austrian native – has tried to teach McBride.

"I have a bunch of words written on my (locker) whiteboard," McBride said.

To this fact Seikovits -- who goes by the nickname "Seiko" -- shakes his head. Former tight end Geoff Swaim was Seikovits' best student in terms of effort. McBride learns "a couple words here and there," but Seikovits doesn't see it really catching on, other than the good morning gesture.

"It's a little repetitive," Seikovits said with a smile in his ever-present accent, "but it's better than nothing."

Seikovits has time to keep working on McBride's learning curve, although he'd like for it to be as a full-fledged member of the 53-man roster. Up until now, Seikovits – who arrived in 2021 as an exempted International Pathways Program player – has spent every one of his three seasons in practice squad purgatory, unable to be elevated on a game day.

He was only supposed to get three years in that role too, meaning 2024 was in doubt.

But the NFL now allows every team to have a 17th practice-squad spot for an international player, and Seikovits' three-year clock resets. That international player can also be elevated from the practice squad three times in a season – opening the door for playing time.

Then again, what Seikovits would love is to make the 53-man roster regardless of his background.

"I'd have hoped they would've kept me around (without the rule change)," Seikovits said. "It gets tough of course. I feel like the only reason it's tough for me is because I am away from home. Everybody lives their life over (in Austria), my grandparents are getting older, they want to see me and my girlfriend and when we get married and stuff like that. They want to experience all that and they won't get any younger.

"But the way I see it is I am only young once and only have this opportunity once in my life. Not really focused on missing out there, focused on what I need to do here."

The Cardinals have rebuilt the tight end room since Seikovits first arrived. McBride, the budding star, was drafted in 2022. Elijah Higgins showed promise in 2023, and the team drafted blocker Tip Reiman in the third round this year.

The rules made it easier for the Cardinals to keep Seikovits, but coach Jonathan Gannon emphasized Seiko was "1000 percent in the realm of everyone else."

"He's competing for a role and is doing a good job."

Seikovits rose to fame in the Austrian league first as a quarterback and then a wide receiver. The 6-foot-5 Vienna native knew he'd have to be a tight end in the NFL, and he admits now he thought he'd come to a team "make a couple of nice catches" and would morph into a receiving tight end – like McBride.

Instead, "I had to learn I am a 'Y' and that I would be a blocking tight end, and I have embraced that role and am happy in that role," he said.

He has McBride's attention. McBride, who has been playing video games with Seikovits in their off time, said his foreign teammate is often funny but always high energy and in a good mood.

"He's got all the talent in the world," McBride said. "He does everything the right way, and I think he does have a future in the league."

Seikovits can only hope. Meanwhile he waits for the coaches to tell him "Zeit, an einem Spiel teilnehmen" and send him in for some playing time.

"A lot of change but the game has slowed down for me," Seikovits said. "Still fun, just like home. I'm happy."

Tight ends Travis Vokolek (81) and Bernhard Seikovits (80) walk out to an OTA.
Tight ends Travis Vokolek (81) and Bernhard Seikovits (80) walk out to an OTA.