This week Jarryd Hayne played in the first game of the season for the American Football (NFL) team, The San Francisco 49’ers, against the Minnesota Vikings. A milestone 10 out of 10 people were rooting for him, but those same 10 individuals deep down did not expect it to come to fruition.
Lets rewind really quickly – Jarryd Hayne was a Sydney boy just 18 years old and already making his debut for the Parramatta Eels in 2006, at 18!! It feels like you’ve achieved next to nothing with your own fitness goals when a kid does this. But wait, there’s more!
After just three years in the top flight of the NRL with The Eels, Hayne Wins the Dally M Medal in 2009 & the Rugby League International Federation’s International Player of the Year award. In 2014 Hayne is named NRL’s ‘Player of the Year’ and then leaves the sport to try his hand at American Football.
Yeah, you read it right; I slid it into that sentence just as calmly as Jarryd announced it when he was leaving NRL to take on this challenge. Imagine you are Player of the Year in NRL, guaranteed to be able to re-negotiate your contract for a million bucks a year plus sponsorship deals, and you leave to try your hand at a sport that is really hard to make it in. Oh yeah, just one small other thing, HE HAS NEVER PLAYED BEFORE… in his life!
Well, that’s what he did, and now he is playing for the 49’ers and pretty well by the looks of pre season.
Jarryd 1, Haters 0.
Is Jarryd the first Australian to play in the NFL? No, we’ve had Aussies leave to fly north as early as the 60’s, and again in the 80’s and 90’s, and quite steadily since the early 2000’s. However, most of these guys have either played college football in the USA or have been poached from the AFL for their kicking skills and employed as just kickers (or punters as they are called in the NFL). The NFL has a guy on their team and all he does is kick (punt). Seriously, that’s it.
In Jarryd, however, we have the first guy to be a fully-fledged player on the field making big plays in the NFL, but how did he get there and how did he make this dream a reality? It wasn’t easy.
First he went to the USA with his agent and had to show his skills to NFL scouts. Then he had to get signed to a train and was selected by the 49’ers to start training with them. After training, Jarryd made the cut to play pre-season with the 49’ers AND THEN he had to make that cut to become a man on the roster of the 49ers. I’m not done yet – he still didn’t know if he would even get picked to play in the team when the game time came around each week. However as we know, he did achieve all of this against all odds.
“He’s already an established athlete” you say, “that would give him an advantage right?”
Well remember that he’s never played the game before and if that doesn’t sway you, take a look at these numbers and you’ll realise just how hard it is to become an NFL player for an American, let alone a kid from Sydney.
Every year 300 new players are added to the NFL roster which is spread over 32 teams. So about 10 blokes to a team, give or take, are added every year to replace the outgoing players. 300 might sound like a lot but lets break it down to how one becomes a selected man in the coveted 300.
Maybe Jarryd Should have said “This is Sparta!” when he was signed, or not, anyway… How we get to the 300:
- 1 million High School Students play NFL in America and if you have ever seen the TV Show Friday Night Lights, high school footy is not like it is in Australia… over there it’s a big deal.
- 610,000 of the 1,000,000 go on to play football for their college after leaving school.
– 6,000 of those 610,000 (less than 1%) will be scouted by NFL recruiters.
– 875 of those 6,000 will sign NFL contracts
– Only then will 300 actually make the roster as a new player in the NFL season each year.
From the 1 millions kids wanting to play NFL, only 0.03% will make the cut. Heavy right? So if you’ve been wondering why everyone is so impressed by Jaryyd Hayne, you can now fully understand what it means for an Aussie to take one of those prized positions.
If ‘The Hayne Plane’ was a real plane, it would be as if Etihad and Singapore airlines had a love child and that child hooked up with a private jet company and had another child – impressive! That’s why so many of us want a ticket aboard the Hayne plane, so start lining up.