By Aaron Callaghan
This is an opinion based blog post, hence I move in and out of the first person. For factual reporting on the issue many news outlets have great coverage.
J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS.
Valentine Holmes is officially the newest New York Jet. The former NRL star, but not yet superstar, utilised the NFL International Pathways program to earn a NFL Practice Squad position.
What does this mean?
Well Holmes along with five other international prospects from varying backgrounds, spent three months at the IMG Academy learning how to play American Football and putting enough film on tape to coerce a NFL team to take a punt on him. No, Holmes will not be back in the NRL unless he grows tired of the league minimum practice squad salary and lack of actual game reps, so sit tight Cowboys fans. With regards to Holmes setting foot on a NFL field, well that is entirely dependent on the Jets need at back and on special teams, the Jarryd Hayne comparison is lazy, however their NFL career arc may be eerily similar as special teams players.
For those rugby league fans playing at home, Holmes posted great measurables on his Pro Day including a scorching 4.45 second 40 yard dash time which would place him unofficially tied for first among running backs.
Valentine has ALL the physical tools required to make the transition, it is more to the point that switching to American Football at the age of 23 is a tough gig, especially at a ‘skill position’. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Holmes NFL career and that is on special teams. He is ideally suited to kick and punt returning and this blogger (having never played a down in American Football) wouldn’t be scared to throw him out on special teams defence as coverage, he can tackle in open field play.
Valentine and The Media
My googling effort puts the flight time between Dallas and Sydney international as 17 hours. After a long haul flight the last, the very LAST thing I would want to do is talk to absolutely anybody, let alone an awaiting media scrum.
I understand players and media should maintain a mutually beneficial relationship and media interest fuels the players back pockets however some discourse should be exhibited - Paul Kent and Buzz Rothfield lit Holmes on fire - suggesting Holmes was smug as he moved through the airport and bypassed media. Please give the man the benefit of the doubt on this one, I do agree with Paul Kent is part when he suggested that Holmes could have stopped for 30 seconds to politely explain he would speak to the media in due course.
I agree Paul, being polite costs nothing, yet gets you so far.
However to dig into Holmes’ credibility because he walked away from the greatest game is very hard to hear, if Holmes’ dream is play American Football, we should celebrate him for having the fortitude to follow that dream.