The Rise Of Aussie Talent In The NFL
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
— 13 February 2024

The Rise Of Aussie Talent In The NFL

— 13 February 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Yesterday, Mitch Wishnowsky narrowly missed out on becoming the second native Australian to ever win a Super Bowl ring after Seattle Seahawk defensive tackle Jesse Williams (Super Bowl XLVIII).

During his second career Super Bowl appearance, Wishnowsky’s San Francisco 49ers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in a dramatic overtime sequence; thereby securing the defending champions’ second consecutive title and third overall within the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid “dynasty.”

But despite this, the 31-year-old punter — who is currently just one of several poster boys for Aussies in the National Football League (NFL) — should consider this achievement an absolute win.

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By the age of 16, Wishnowsky had dropped out of high school to become an apprentice glazier. Once upon a time, the kid from Perth had dreamed about professional soccer or AFL stardom; but those fantasies were summarily dashed by a series of injuries.

His life changed for the better when he signed up for a recreational American flag football league in 2013. Soon after, he’d be scouted by Nathan Chapman for Prokick Australia — a Melbourne training centre that converts AFL players to gridiron punters — before being selected as the 110th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers.

Since then, the “Punter from Down Under” has cemented himself as one of the greatest names in his position. So much so that last year, he inked a four-year contract with the 49ers reportedly worth US$13 million (AU$20 million), making him the seventh highest-paid punter in the NFL. For reference, that’s almost four times the highest-paid AFL player’s annual salary (Dustin Martin, $1.35 million per year).

Outside of Mitch Wishnowsky, there has been a steady procession of talent from this sunburnt nation of ours, walking in the footsteps of the NFL’s very first Australian-born player, Dallas Cowboys punter Colin Ridgway, who was active throughout the 1960s.

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From famed former AFL case study Ben Graham, who most notably played for the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals; to Adam Gotsis, Daniel Faalele, and Jordan Mailata, homegrown representatives have been steadily building what is fast becoming a rich lineage of Australians within the National Football League.

It isn’t simply tokenistic, either. As an offensive tackle, Jordan Mailata — who actually defected from the junior tier of NRL — proved instrumental to the Philadelphia Eagles’ 2023 campaign. Similar to Wishnowsky and the 49ers, however; the human “wrecking ball” and the Eagles were defeated by Mahomes and Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LVII.

As more and more Aussie names find success in the NFL, and as the popularity of American football continues to grow in our sport-obsessed country, expect to hear more tales of triumph like the ones outlined above.

The Aussie takeover of the NFL is only just beginning, and the best is almost certainly yet to come.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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