Profiling the Australian Players Appearing in NFL

April 9th, 2024

Sport, music and casinos are among the top pursuits in Australia, with live performances and games like slots entertaining natives all year around. From events, gigs and Erik King's no deposit bonuses which are easy to use and provide players the ability to strategize and develop casino skills, these pursuits offer an exciting thrill for people who enjoy the pursuit of gaming and an adrenaline rush on the field and main stage.

When it comes to sport in particular, rugby is the most watched sport in Australia, with millions tuning in to watch league games and, of course, the World Cup. Aussie rules football is also hugely popular, with more than one million people playing the sport regularly.

Requiring the supreme ability to catch, throw and kick, these two sports share some striking similarities with America’s NFL allowing plenty of Australians to successfully navigate the crossover and make a career in football based on the skills they learned in their homeland Down Under.

This article will profile some of the Australians currently making a name for themselves in the NFL.

Jordan Mailata

The Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle was born in New South Wales and started his sporting career in rugby league. Appearing for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Under 18s and the South Sydney Rabbitohs Under 20s side, it was these displays which caught the attention of the NFL.

Admitting he only watched one game a year - the Super Bowl, of course - Mailata didn’t have a strong knowledge of the sport and had never played American football before when he was invited to try out for the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program.

However, it seems that didn’t matter at all as his talent was enough and he was scouted by Jeff Stoutland to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and has been a starter since 2021.

Daniel Faalele

Faalele is a man mountain with the Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle standing at six foot eight inches and weighing in as the fifth heaviest player in NFL history. The 24-year-old was born in Melbourne and, like Mailata, was spotted after playing rugby in his homeland. Playing football for the University of Minnesota, he had received offers from a host of colleges after impressing at IMG Academy in Florida.

His performances in Minnesota led to recognition and in 2019, he was listed by GQ Australia as one of the country’s 50 Greatest Living Athletes. Two years later he was being tipped for the NFL draft but elected to play college football for his senior year.

However, his talent is so great he was drafted by the Ravens in 2022 and he has since made 32 appearances. Deputizing for Patrick Mekari against the New York Patriots, his showing earned plenty of plaudits as he helped Baltimore earn an important win.

Michael Dickson

Having earned the Golden Boot award during his first year playing Aussie rules football at the age of just nine, Dickson boasted the kicking ability to make it as a sportsman and, in particular, make it in the NFL.

Born in Sydney, the Seattle Seahawks punter showed his talent for football at the University of New South Wales which soon saw him recruited by the Sydney Swans talent academy.

However, despite his obvious skill, it was actually being overlooked by the Australian Football League which set him on a path to the NFL. Failing to be selected in the AFL Draft of 2014, Dickson actively moved to join Prokick Australia in Melbourne to try his luck in NFL.

It proved an inspired decision as he was selected to play by the University of Texas where he would be awarded the ‘Ray Guy Award’ after being identified as college football’s most outstanding punter. Also named a 2017 Texas Bowl MVP and unanimous All-American, this form saw him drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2018.

Dickson has since written his name into NFL folklore. The first rookie punter voted into the Pro Bowl since 1985 when he made the grade in 2019, his career punt average of 47.7 yards is the highest in the history of the NFL. The kicking ability he showed as a kid has helped him become a major player in the professional game.

Lou Hedley

Punter Lou Hedley took a more unconventional route into NFL and actually worked as a scaffolder and planned to open a tattoo shop in Bali before deciding to pursue football as a career.

Having played football for Peel Thunder for a season in 2013, Hedley had ability despite struggling to break into the senior side in his native Australia. However, capable of long kicking, he too joined Prokick Australia and by 2017 was on track for an NFL career.

Playing one season of college football at the City College of San Francisco, Hedley was averaging 38.6 punts and in 2019, signed for the Miami Hurricanes. Over four years, his punt average climbed 45.2 yards and in 2022 declared for the NFL draft. Despite not being drafted in 2023, Hedley joined the New Orleans Saints and two months after his 30th birthday, made the 53-man roster.

Summing Up

From punters to offensive tackles, the sports Australians love and have grown up with have set many athletes up for successful careers in the NFL. Aussie rules football and rugby are all about successful throwing, catching and kicking and it’s these skills which have seen so many natives make the switch to America and shine on the global stage of NFL.

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