I'm calling it... Jarryd Hayne is in the final 53-man San Francisco 49ers team. During the four pre-season games he proved his lethal ability in special teams and he's also shown real potential as an offensive running back. It's an almost unbelievable feat for a rookie with no real game experience to make it to the top on his first attempt. This post lists his personal attributes that everyone should aspire to if they want their career to transition to the next level.
For those reading this in the USA, here is a highlight reel of his career playing in the NRL (National Rugby League) where he was rated as one of the best players internationally. In Rugby you can't throw the ball forward and no-one is allowed to block for you. Only the person carrying the ball is eligible to be tackled and you also have to place the ball on the ground in the in-zone to score.
Jarryd comes from a very humble upbringing... wrong side of the tracks and wrong side of the Pacific Ocean for NFL. His dream when embarking down the path of being a professional footballer was simply to buy his mother a house. He is driven by good values and passion for the sport he plays. He earned his spot at the pinnacle of Rugby League and while at the peak of his game he announced he was walking away to try American Football. You could have heard a pin drop... 'it's a joke – right?' People thought he was insane as he explained that he had recruited a handful of nobody amateur American Football players in Sydney for practice in a local park before deciding to burn his bridges and move to the USA.
Remember when Michael Jordan switched to baseball? Very few can successfully change sporting codes and we don't have a [worthy] American Football competition in Australia on which he could have built any experience. For Jarryd Hayne to make the playing roster for the 49ers as a mature age rookie, and with no real American Football experience, at any level, is a massive achievement. Does John madden agree? If the video below won't play here in LinkedIn, watch it in YouTube directly.
John Madden isn't the only person who thinks Hayne has got a big future in NFL. Brian Mitchell, the greatest returner in NFL history, says Hayne has rediscovered a lost art in how he runs the ball and makes players miss. Brian Mitchell won a Super Bowl and earned Pro Bowl selection in a fourteen-year career with the Redskins, Eagles and Giants.
After the first three pre-season games, Hayne ranked third in the NFL for punt return yardage (120) and every return eclipsed the best return yardage from the previous regular season at the 49ers! In the 4th quarter of the final pre-season game today against San Diego he really shined. His teammates went crazy on the sideline when he should-blocked Rose to the turf at the end of a reception and yardage run. With many sporting fans in Australia now 49ers devotees and with sport as the number one religion here, there will be calls for and end of season 49ers exhibition game in Sydney... it will be a sell-out and the biggest coverage NFL will every receive outside North America. So how did Jarryd Hayne do it?
1. He has transferable skills. Jarryd can catch, step (cut), find a gap, fend (stiff-arm) and run hard and fast. He can also tackle and compete for a ball in the air... man can he catch. Although he has innate talent, he has invested thousands of hours developing his skills. His only NFL weaknesses are inexperience and the fact that hat he runs too high (upright).
2. He is committed with unstoppable determination. Jarryd didn't leave any options option open with the Australian NRL to go all-in on a shot at the NFL. He committed to his new path and moved to the USA... he was all in. He will do whatever is needed to un-learn, re-learn and adapt to his new game. He will learn how to better read the plays and get low and forward at impact when he runs.
3. He has an impeccable work ethic. He has already changed his physical shape to become more explosive. Rugby is an endurance sport (no special teams and time-outs) and with a limited bench of just 4 players for interchange. Jarryd will endlessly watch tapes, listen to advice, take coaching and work-out to be in peak physical shape. He will also drill like a golf pro building the perfect swing. He knows that mastery takes 10,000 hours and the faster he can get that time under his belt the better.
4. He's a team player. The 49ers have signed a player that is high on confidence and low on ego. If the best place for him on the team is on the bench; he'll do it with a great attitude. If he is limited to special teams then that will be okay with him while he learns his craft and hones his skills. He knows how appreciate the efforts of those around him who enable him to shine on and off the field. The blockers will work hard for him knowing that he fearlessly gives his all.
5. He has genuine gratefulness and humility. Jarryd is very conscious of the fact that just being on the 49ers team is 'living the dream.' He won't implode with fame, fortune nor will he buckle under pressure. He is already a world class athlete, mentally and physically, and he's embracing a new challenge with both hands.
These attributes make career transition viable for anyone seeking to change their vocation. Build skills that are portable and have an attitude that makes you irresistible. Young dogs and old dogs can both learn new tricks.
I lived in the USA for a few years and love NFL. Most Aussies however, and the British for that matter, have no idea how American Football works. This video is proof... and very funny ;-)
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Main image photo from Flickr.