Jordan Mailata: the rugby player who never dreamed of the Super Bowl

Jordan Mailata: the rugby player who never dreamed of the Super Bowl


PHOENIX | When the Eagles won the Super Bowl five years ago, Jordan Mailata was a far cry from the crazy parade of champions in Philadelphia . His rugby career had just ended in Australia, he had no knowledge of football and it was with a job as a carpenter's assistant that he made ends meet.

Five years later, one might think there is a mistake about the person. Not only is Mailata in Super Bowl 57 at Arizona with the Eagles, but he's in the critical position of starting left tackle.

He's responsible for protecting star quarterback Jalen Hurts' blind spot and opening ground breaches. It was while watching the film The Blind Side about the life of former tackle Michael Oher that he thought that American football could become an option to earn a living. < /p>

Here, in turn, his improbable journey could be the perfect choice for a Disney-style story.

“If someone had told me that I would be here one day, I would have asked him what he was smoking because I would have taken some too”, launched Mailata, very voluble and generous with the media captivated by his story. .

Dramatic change

How could the 6'8″, 365 pound mountain change his life? In 2017, it was with the under-20 club Rabbitohs of South Sydney that he hoped to break into the National Rugby League. He was offered a one-year contract for $5,000 to play with the reserve club in North Sydney.

The coaching staff, however, did not retain his services. His agency, which had some contact with the NFL, invited him to enroll in the league's international program, which earned him an invitation to an evaluation camp in Tampa in March 2018.

His performance caught the eye of Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. A month later, the Eagles made him their seventh-round pick, 233rd overall in the draft.

“The hardest part was…everything!” It's a completely different sport, a completely different technique, a completely different terminology. It's probably one of the hardest sports to learn. 

“It took me three years to feel really comfortable. The biggest book I have read in my life is our playbook! he chuckled proudly.

What is the Super Bowl?

Growing up, the Australian never dreamed of the Super Bowl. The very idea of ​​making the leap to the United States to knock on the door of the NFL at age 20, in 2018, made him dizzy.

“The little I understood about the Super Bowl was touchdowns. Otherwise, the rest was a mystery. I remember a Super Bowl between the Falcons and the Patriots. I had to stop to go to my rugby practice and when the practice ended, I did not understand that the team which had a big lead had finally lost, ”he said, referring to the sad fate of the Falcons, who had squandered a 28-3 lead in the third quarter.

“I can't even call it a dream. I look at my teammates who have been playing this sport since childhood. They dreamed of the Super Bowl. I started playing five years ago.

Efforts rewarded

After three seasons marked by learning and injury, Mailata saw action in 2020 and quickly recovered. imposed.

Going into the 2021 season, the Eagles saw him as one of the cornerstones of their roster. Free translation: a four-year contract for $64 million, of which $40.9 is guaranteed.

“It is often said that you first have to dip your toe in the water to get used to it. In my case, you had to sink all at once and then learn to swim. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. A Super Bowl win would be a good sequel,” reflected the inspiring colossus.  

Everything is ready for the visit

Downtown Phoenix, where many of the Super Bowl-related activities take place, dressed up for the visit. Several buildings have been decorated with Super Bowl sauce, to put visitors in the mood. This is the fourth time the Ultimate Game has been presented in Arizona and the third time at State Farm Stadium. During the last Super Bowl in the region, in 2015, economic benefits of $720 million were recorded. This time, the chamber of commerce expects to flirt with the billion dollars. The area is hosting the PGA's Waste Mangement Open at the same time and is expecting a total of one million visitors.

Heat and cacti

No trace of the cold spell that froze Quebec, since the representative of the Journalhit dry Arizona soil! On the contrary, not to put you in good shape, but the sun spares us its rays and it is good to breathe the air without the nostrils sticking to us. All week, the mercury should oscillate between 20 and 25 degrees, with full sun. To get away from the crowds, the most contemplative can be well served by exotic settings near downtown Tempe, a charming university town near Phoenix airport.

< strong>The return of the great circus

Monday night was the first time in three years, the traditional media night to kick off Super Bowl interview week. The event had been scratched from the last two editions due to the pandemic. It is still fascinating to note that no less than 10,000 people attended this rather cacophonous and wacky exercise. The floor of the Footprint Center, home of the Suns (NBA) in the city center, was overflowing with journalists and special guests. It's not always the best time for in-depth interviews, but that madness was missing from the Super Bowl. 

Hidden singing talents 

In addition to having amazed with his singing skills on the show The Masked Singer, Jordan Mailata convinced his teammates to release a special Christmas album.

If football hadn't worked for Jordan Mailata, there would always have been the song.

Mailata has developed over the years this talent first hidden, then exposed in the open in as part of the American show The Masked Singer, last March. 

Then, with his teammates on the offensive line Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, the idea of ​​a Christmas record germinated afterwards, a bit jokingly.

The three friends, in the company of former linebacker Connor Barwin, finally took some time off to record the hit album A Philly Special Christmas.

Monster Recipes

In fact, proceeds of $250,000 have already been donated to a Philadelphia organization that helps children struggling with mental health problems.

Since then, reissues of the album have are sold like hot cakes, so much so that $1.25 million will be donated to various charities.

“For me, singing is natural. To see my teammates sing, they who are novices, it was hilarious. They said it was harder than football,” laughed Mailata, recalling that smoldering success in Philadelphia.

Strong ties

If the cause was noble, the exercise also allowed the three dominant monsters of the Eagles offensive line to reveal another side of their personality.

“It allowed us to show that there are several layers to an individual. We are athletes, but we have other talents. It is in such a context that we see the true nature of the individuals around us. This album really brought us closer, I really felt it,” rejoiced the 25-year-old player.

Whether for his phenomenal progress on the pitch or for the bonds he has woven with his teammates in a short time, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is delighted to have unearthed a rare pearl.

“As soon as I saw him practice, I knew he had all the traits we were looking for. I'm glad no one else noticed. He worked so hard to learn. It was all foreign to him and it’s an incredible story,” he raved.