“It always works out,” an excited Jarryd Hayne tweeted Saturday after learning his NFL dream was now a reality.
“I thank God for what He has done and going to do on this incredible journey… I’m on the 53 man roster for the #49ers!”
According to Mashable, the 27-year-old Australian National Rugby League player had turned down a multi-million dollar contract offered by the Parramatta Eels to stay. Hayne instead opted for a $100,000 contract with the San Francisco 49ers and the chance to play in America’s National Football League.
Jarryd explained his motivations in a letter to fans.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NFL, and at my age, this is my one and only chance at having a crack at playing there.”
Despite the best wishes of an entire continent, the odds were stacked against Jarryd Hayne, a man who’d never actually played football at any point in his life. Jarryd was a rugby league football player, a fact some worried would make it incredibly hard for him to grasp NFL-style play.
One major change would be the adjustment to wearing a helmet and padding; league players like Hayne are used to tackling and running with very little protection. Still, Jarryd was determined; he spent the last year training for a running back position with the 49ers. Along the way, Jarryd earned the admiration and support of his new teammates.
San Francisco place-kicker Phil Dawson said of Hayne’s journey, “It’s been really fun to watch.”
“Right off the bat you notice how well he can catch a ball. Catching a punt is probably one of the toughest skills in the NFL, and he’s just stepped right in and looks like a natural.”
Not only were Hayne’s catches “natural,” but his physical style of play has been a hit with 49ers fans and teammates. A reaction to his kick return against the Houston Texans made the NFL’s “Mic’d Up” segment.
The exclamation point on Jarryd Hayne’s preseason was laying a San Diego Chargers defender flat on his back during play.
— NFL (@NFL) September 4, 2015
Despite pumping up the crowd during the game (and going viral on social media), Jarryd admitted that he was nervous in the final minutes before San Francisco announced its 53-man roster. He wasn’t exactly sure how he’d learn his fate.
“Do I get a phone call? Is someone going to tell me I’ve got a job, or what?
After what must have felt like a lifetime of agony, Jarryd Hayne received a congratulatory text from 49ers coach Jim Tomsula. The exciting news caused #HaynePlane and #HaynePlaneIsHereToStay to trend on Twitter.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 5, 2015
It’s debatable as to whether or not the hardest part of Jarryd Hayne’s journey ended when he made the San Francisco 49ers roster. The Hayne story is certainly the most captivating tale of the 2015-16 preseason. But as many football fans will tell you, preseason football isn’t as intense or demanding as regular season football, At that point, Jarryd will be up against professional players who possess years of experience he unfortunately lacks.
Although it’s unlikely Jarryd Hayne will have a major starting role for the 49ers (at least at first), what he will have is the chance to make a truly international impact. It’s safe to say that Jarryd’s story has millions of Aussies interested in the NFL, something the league may appreciate as it works to expand its reach across the globe.
Do you think Jarryd Hayne will make it in the NFL? Share your thoughts below.
[Image Credit: Matt King/Getty Images]