Jordan Berry may well be an unusual case, but is the big Australian punter set for a big 2017 NFL season with the Pittsburgh Steelers?
The 26-year-old hails from Melbourne and has the ideal physique to have become a real star of Australian Rules, the iconic game of his home state of Victoria. But it is NFL which he has made his own and 2017 could be the year when Berry kicks the Steelers towards success.
Berry will be in his third season of NFL football. Having graduated from Eastern Kentucky University and gained his experience of the game as a Colonel, the Steelers signed the Australian in 2015. He averaged 42.6 yards in his rookie year, and bettered that in 2016 to a 45.6-yard average.
Berry helped the Steelers go all the way to the AFC Championship game, only for Pittsburgh to lose 36-17 to subsequent Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. The experience will no doubt have stood Berry in good stead, though, and he will be bidding to go all the way to Super Bowl LII in February 2018.
According to Australian tipster site Bettingpro.com.au, the odds in Australia where there is undoubtedly extra support for the Steelers, they feel there is a real chance it could happen. Pittsburgh are fourth favourites to win the Super Bowl and second favourites to win the AFC Championship behind the Patriots.
So, how did Berry end up as a punter in the NFL when he could have been starring closer to home as a professional in Aussie Rules? The answer is simple…due to a connection with a man named Nathan Chapman.
Chapman set up Prokick Australia, a company designed with the specific intention of developing young Australian sportsman into American Football punters and helping them make the grade in the sport. Berry was just one of the graduates from the programme, and perhaps the most successful.
Having worked in a call centre and at a McDonald’s store while learning the art of being a punter, Berry landed a scholarship at Eastern Kentucky University. He honed his skills further more within the Colonels talent pool, caught the eye of Steelers scouts and the rest, as they say, is history.
Berry has played 16 times in each of the last two seasons and is a firm part of the Steelers roster. The question now is: can Berry kick Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl?