US Writer Disses Aussie NRL Talent, Says Hayne-Wannabes Needn’t Bother

Don’t quit your day jobs.”

That’s the advice one US writer has for any other League player toying with the idea of making the leap across to the NFL in the wake of the surprising success story that is Jarryd Hayne.
SB Nation‘s James Dator penned a long breakdown of the reasons why he believes Hayne will indeed make it in the NFL and, more importantly, why other NRL players will not.
Coming on the heels of Dragons player Josh Dugan apparently floating the idea of crossing over with his management, Dator’s article breaks down the reasons for Hayne’s success in the American game, as well as the reasons why others won’t find that path quite as easy.
The short version? Hayne is an athletic freak, and American Football is a completely different game to Rugby League.
Sarcasm aside, the article takes a number of pot shots, firstly at the Australian psyche…

“This runs headfirst into a larger phenomenon most Australians would rather pretend doesn’t exist: Seeking acceptance from the USA. There’s a dichotomy of disdain for perceived cultural imperialism butting up against this notion that gaining success it in the United States means you’ve “made it.” This applies to chefs, actors, musicians and of course athletes. Hayne is that dream made manifest, and it’s one other players will seek too.”

then a clumsy, backhanded analogy of the physical skills required in both sports that – though it may have had good intentions – wound up being reasonably insulting to League athletes…

“If we distill a Rugby League player and an NFL player into their parts we have two very different looking tools. The former is a Swiss army knife, able to do a little bit of everything. The latter is a scalpel, refined and machined to micron-level precision. Neither is better than the other in isolation, they simply serve different purposes. You’d never want to perform surgery with a Swiss army knife, nor would you want a scalpel to open a can of beans while camping.”

and ends with him accidentally proving his own hypothetical point about American football and its criticisms.

Firstly, this…

“Being an NFL fan in Australia means hearing barbs thrown at the sport in one of three well-worn camps: The players are fat, they’re not tough enough to play without pads and they get dozens of 30 second rests during the game.”

…but then later, this.
“America provides them with a chance to earn that money for a few touches in 16 games, not playing a full 80 minutes each week over a 26-game season.”

And whilst the article itself isn’t completely off-base – and it certainly extols Hayne’s athletic and on-field virtues with gushing reverence – it largely ignores a few key things.

Firstly, Hayne’s lifelong obsessive fandom of the NFL. Which exists to the point where he used to play the Madden games in a Reggie Bush jersey and helmet. So whilst Hayne had never played with pads on prior to this recent pre-season, the game was not even remotely an unfamiliar concept to him.
Secondly, that some of the larger NRL players of Islander origin have exactly the body type to play in the NFL as a defensive lineman or tackle – and the NFL already is littered with players of precisely that ilk. Polynesian NFL players often come from exclusively Rugby backgrounds, converting to the American sport upon relocating to the US for schooling or religious missions. Brigham Young University – a predominantly mormon college in Utah – has a particularly long history of recruiting such players and grooming them for NFL careers.
And thirdly, that Hayne’s jump to the NFL will cause some sort of mass exodus from the NRL from players seeking fame and fortune. Which, not to put things too bluntly, fucking well will not happen.
Despite the Australian media blowing up over Hayne’s journey thus far, no one with even a half clue about the NFL is suffering any delusions of grandeur about how his season will pan out. As a third string Running Back – at least according to San Francisco‘s unofficial depth chart – he’s likely to be used far more on Special Teams this year. And that, for the time being, is his best fit.
Whether or not this causes an avalanche of code hoppers is irrelevant. What matters is the insinuation that all League players should entirely give up on the idea of crossing over. Which is insulting.
Would someone else make it in the NFL? Possibly.
Unlike Hayne, it wouldn’t happen overnight. But the point is it could happen.
Photo: Ezra Shaw via Getty Images.