Philadelphia Eagles Jordan Mailata love to help Aussie thrive in the NFL
Jordan Mailata of Philadelphia is proud of his past, the unique path he has traveled and the people he represents. But the Eagles’ new starting left tackle is also keen to put some distance between him and an aspect of his past: the rugby league.
“It was just a matter of identity for me. I know deep down that I will never forget my life in the rugby league,” he told Australian media ahead of opening week of the NFL.
But for Mailata, who was a member of the South Sydney Under-20 team before changing codes, it’s about being analyzed, criticized and praised for the sport he plays today, and d ” be measured to the same standards as the rest of their teammates.
“I want people to hold me accountable because I’m not good enough at applying the technique, not because they’re giving me the benefit of the doubt,” Mailata continued.
“Oh, he’s a rugby player, he doesn’t really know what he’s doing.
“I honestly believe I know the job and can do the job. I have great coaches who are the reason I’m here today. They hold me accountable all the time, teach me. good techniques, good games.
“But it’s up to me to go out there and run my own business, that’s why I want to erase this rugby league past. For me, it’s just a matter of identity – who I want be as a player here in the United States.
“I just want to be seen as a football player, not the Bankstown Bulls boy.”
The weight of defeating 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard in training camp and securing a starting spot is not lost for the 6’8 ‘graduate of the NFL International Player Pathway program The confidence and faith the Eagles have shown in him only adds to his own belief, and his measured approach ensures that his focus doesn’t falter.
“The feeling didn’t really get in, because for me, I had to adopt a certain lifestyle to get to where I am,” Mailata said.
“Every year, I have the same benchmarks. First, list the 53 players.
“The mantra of getting one percent better every day has always been my goal, and it’s the only way of life I know, because of my offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. really wouldn’t be here, and because I’ve trusted him so far, I’m not going to walk away.
“It’s addicting, once you do something right and know what that feeling is, you want to keep doing it over and over again.”
He concedes that to the media it might sound like a “record broken,” but that repetitiveness is a theme for the once-raw seventh round pick.
“To be consistent, because the most important thing about the NFL is to try to be consistent for a long time, that will be the hardest thing a player can do,” Mailata said.
“I don’t really set benchmarks like Pro Bowls. I’m here to win a championship, I’ll say that. I’m going to work every day to win a championship for this city and this team.”
Stressing the importance of his daily “process” would seem a bit familiar to sports fans in Philadelphia, and the more you hear the 24-year-old’s speech, it’s clear that he puts a heavy price on continued commitment.
It extends beyond the pitch, where his now infamous singing skills have repeatedly made waves on social media; he remains rock solid on his favorite artist when he takes the microphone.
“Chris Stapleton is the quintessential karaoke, mate.”
But to get to the point of being a moving-voiced starter and an apparent heir to All-Decade left tackle Jason Peters, Mailata had to overcome the obstacle most often mentioned for cross-sport converts – the playbook .
“The first time I saw a playbook I almost passed out,” Mailata said.
“It’s like a hundred-sided Rubik’s cube. It’s kind of about understanding the ins and outs, the patterns. Once you understand the patterns on a Rubik’s cube, you kind of stick to it. .
“It’s the same with the playbook. You just have to understand the patterns, which patterns go together, understand the whole goal, where the ball is taken, what gap … the more you hike it, the more you set it up, the more you run it during training, the more it adds up. “
But preparing like a starter will only prepare you when the opportunity arises, and with injuries causing an opening on the left tackle in 2020, those 10 starts have allowed Mailata to put their growing understanding into practice with live snapshots.
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“Towards the end of 2020, after the first two starts, the match day really started to slow down,” Mailata said. “It was a lot easier for me to just focus on the games and not be nervous or anxious.
“Then it all became a matter of preparation. How did I prepare myself during this week? Did I train fast enough?
“People worry about who they’re playing against, what they’re going to see, what kind of moves they’re going to get. For me, I broke it down by elimination. The first thing that worries me, it’s me, the last thing that worries me is me, if I can take care of my work.
“The more experience I had, with each snap I played the game got slower and slower.”
In a disappointing 4-11-1 season for the Eagles, Mailata’s emergence on the edge of the offensive line was one of the few bright spots. And the Australian names his positional coach Jeff Stoutland as the driving force behind his impressive game from the start.
“He’s been extremely patient, I’ll tell you. I owe him everything,” Mailata said of Stoutland. “He gives himself 120% every day, and that’s just who Coach Stout is. It’s not just for me, it’s for everyone online. He has so much heart for the game and so much heart for his players, he just wants you to succeed, and all he asks is to meet him halfway.
“He represents the world to me. He’s like my dad here. The same way I was raised by my real dad, it’s exactly the same way he teaches me how to play football. C is a difficult love.
“We have a fun relationship, but deep down inside, when he insults me and calls me all kinds of names, I know he loves me, and I just have to find my way through the insults.
“I’m just thankful that I can have someone like Coach Stout in my life, because without him I wouldn’t know anything, to be honest.”
Returning to his family in Australia, the imposing young man on the precipice of a career break laments that they could not join him in Philadelphia to see the fruits of four years of work, in the city that it represents.
But in that “tough love” of Coach Stoutland and the work ethic he relies on, Mailata feels the value of everything her family has given her.
“My mom, especially growing up, she worked full time, six days a week, probably 12 hours a day,” Mailata explained. “My dad was a handyman, he had two jobs, the guy could fix anything.”
“I don’t know how he did it, the guy came straight from Samoa, and this guy knew how to fix everything: the car, the toilet, he even did some gardening and planted trees … for me it was was inspiring as a child. “
Growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Mailata often wondered if the harsh words he earned at home lived up to the class, only to go to school and gain reassurance from his friends within the Polynesian community.
“It’s a Samoan thing, a Polynesian thing. It’s that tough love,” Mailata said.
“This is the environment in which we Polynesians grew up and that’s what I was used to. Without them I wouldn’t be anywhere, it’s because of them to put up a roof. on our heads, to make sure we had to eat. “
Although following a different path from Mailata, there are a growing number of talented athletes representing both Australia and the Polynesian community making the leap to American football, including Jordan Spasojevic-Moko of Texas A&M, the Huge Minnesota right tackle Daniel Faalele and Utah Ute Luke Felix-Fualalo.
To those and other young Polynesian athletes who are considering embarking on a similar track, Mailata’s message is simple: do it.
“If you really want to put all your eggs in one basket, do it, don’t look back. For me there was no plan B, it was always plan A,” he said. declared.
“I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. It’s a pride to be Polynesian, to have that last name on your back, especially when your father comes from a small village.
“I didn’t want to betray my father, I didn’t want to betray my last name and my family.”
The Eagles’ blind side protector repeats a line he once shared about not dipping your toes in the water, but instead that you have to dive, submerge yourself, and learn to swim. But admits he added a few tools to help him stay out of the water.
“This time I’m coming in with floats, mate,” Mailata joked. “I’m not drowning anymore, I actually have some tools in my bag to help me stay afloat this time. I’m just making sure those buoys don’t jump.”
With the chance to secure a massive contract extension at the end of the season, the 233rd pick in the 2018 Draft is hoping to thrive not only with those floats but also with a few compatriots in the building, in new starting bettor Arryn Siposs, formerly of St. Kilda and practice team defensive lineman Matt Leo.
“It’s great, everyone always gives us a bunch of sticks,” Mailata said. “Everyone always says ‘hey mate!’ or and ‘are you going to eat vegemite?’ and they do their best Australian accent. They sound more British to be honest, and I have to tell them.
“We all have different backgrounds – Matt was a plumber, I was a Rabbitohs Under-20 player and Arryn was in the AFL. Amazing to see three different stories on one team.
“When we talk about it, it’s just remarkable that we are coming from where we are from. Watch us know it, live the dream that we have set forth.”