Jordan Mailata, the Australian left tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, entered the NFL with no prior college football experience and has a remarkable story of determination and transformation. He is the only player in the league who joined the NFL without attending college.
The 26-year-old recently appeared on the New Heights podcast hosted by Travis and Jason Kelce. During the podcast, he shared insights into his journey from getting paid $200 in rugby to earning millions in the NFL.
Jordan Mailata reflects on his rugby struggles
During the podcast, Jordan Mailata shared his hardships and struggles with the Kelce brothers reflecting on his difficult days during his rugby career.
“How were you first discovered? How did the NFL find out about Jordan Mailata?”, Jason Kelce asked Mailata about his journey to the NFL.
Jordan Mailata immediately recalled his days in rugby. The OT shared his struggles and how he used to work multiple jobs to survive. He shared that he used to get paid only $200 for the games he won and $100 for the games he lost.
“I had to pay my way to fund rugby as well because I wasn’t getting paid much rugby; I was getting $200 for a win and $100 for a loss.”
The OT also shared that he used to work in construction, in “scaffolding and stage-building” because it was hard for him to survive with the money he was getting by playing Rugby.
Mailata further said that after one season his team announced that he didn’t play well so he was connected to the International Player Pathway Program.
“I had no idea what the hell I was doing; I just knew I was going to LA to workout for a program that might get you to the NFL.”
And this is where everything changed. From here Jordan Mailata transitioned into a new career that paid him beyond his expectations.
How did Jordan Mailata come to the NFL?
Despite excelling in rugby, Mailata never progressed to the top level in the NRL. He received a final contract offer of just 5,000 Australian dollars from the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Feeling too big for rugby, he decided to explore American football, moving to the United States.
Jordan Mailata had an unconventional entry to the NFL. He had no football experience and had never played football in college before being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018.
Mailata shared that the NFL first learned about him through a highlight reel showcasing his dominance in the Rugby League. His ability to overpower opponents made a strong impression.
“He was unstoppable, and he actually hurt a few kids because he was such a big kid,” one of his teammates had said.
Malaita is also one of the most weighted players in the league. Despite his heavyweight, the OT moves with great speed which makes him an exceptional player. He shared that when first he saw the playbook he thought it was an “instruction manual to build a spaceship.”
Being a rugby player Mailata just knew a few things about the NFL like what is a touchdown and making the first down. Other than that he had no ideas about the game. He also shared that he used to watch Super Bowl games just for the half-time show.
Although Mailata knew nothing about the NFL he has played incredibly. Within five years of his NFL career, he has cemented his name as one of the best offensive tackles in the league and became a critical member of the Eagles. His progress is exemplified by the fact that the Eagles pay him $16 million a year.
Jordan Mailata’s transition from an Australian rugby player with no football experience to a successful NFL left tackle is a remarkable story of dedication and hard work.