The latest Australian to grace the NFL, Daniel Faalele, has got off to a flying start in his first weeks as an NFL player, continuing the success story of Australians in the NFL.
Faalele, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft, is one of eight Australians in the NFL this season and has the potential to become the next big thing amongst Aussie expats.
All eyes on the man mountain
There will be plenty of attention surrounding the offensive tackle this season, not only due to his stature. While he is six foot eight inches tall and weighs in at 380 pounds, making him the heaviest player in the NFL, he also has a great deal of potential at 22.
Faalele made his NFL debut against the Miami Dolphins and his performance won praise from Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson. He told ESPN that Faalele “just started dominating like he did in college,” referring to his college career at the University of Minnesota.
His immediate impact has raised the prospect of an NFL career similar to that of compatriot and fellow offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, who signed a lucrative four-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
NFL fans, particularly in Australia, will be interested in how the season progresses for the Ravens and how Faalele performs. With enhanced interest in the NFL, Australians can place bets on the NFL on a range of new Australian betting sites such as Unibet, which has priced the Ravens at 16/1 to win the Super Bowl and they are evens favourites to win the AFC North, where they face the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens have got off to a good start this season, emerging victorious in three of their first five games of the season, beating the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. The Ravens narrowly lost out in their other two NFL fixtures, a 38-42 defeat to the Miami Dolphins and a 20-23 loss against the Buffalo Bills.
A transferable skill set
The NFL features players from a wide range of countries around the world, which this season includes the Cameroonian outside linebacker Arnold Ebiketie. However, Australia is an ideal breeding ground for football code converts as certain NFL positions share a skill set with the popular Aussie sports rugby league, rugby union and Australian rules football.
The position of punter, for example, requires skills which are also necessary in Aussie Rules football. The NFL also gives players from Australian Rules football the opportunity to extend their careers. Darren Bennett, for example, ended his Australian rules career with the Melbourne Football Club as he approached his 30s, but had a successful 11-season career as a punter in the NFL, playing for the San Diego Chargers and the Minnesota Vikings.
However, the first Australian to transition to the NFL shows that athletes from different codes can also become successful. Colin Ridgway, the Melbourne-born high jumper, who appeared at the 1956 Olympic Games held in his home city, switched sports to compete for the Dallas Cowboys as a punter in 1965. But nowadays, punters usually make a successful transition from Aussie Rules football to the NFL with Mitch Wishnowsky recently rewarded with a four-year contract extension by the San Francisco 49ers. The total value to the Australian punter is said to be up to £11.5 million.
The exodus of Australians to the NFL is likely to continue with former NFL defensive tackle and Super Bowl winner Jesse “Tha Monstar” Williams revealing that he has been receiving messages from several NRL and rugby union players, who are interested in a career in the NFL. Stand by for further Australian success stories in the NFL!