By Catholic Partnership Schools Healthy Courier staff | Jordan Mailata said it was “one of the toughest decisions” in his life to move 10,000 miles away from his tight-knit family to pursue his career in the National Football League.
“When you leave home and you’re close with your siblings, it puts wear and tear on your relationships,” said Mr. Mailata, an offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, who grew up near Sydney, Australia. “One way I cope—it might sound a little cliché—but I put all of my heart and hard work into becoming a starting left tackle.”
Being away from home was particularly hard when he reached personal milestones, such as being drafted by the Eagles and having his first game as a starting player in the NFL.
That first start was in a 2020 road game against the San Francisco 49ers. He was emotional because he reached that milestone alone. His family and his girlfriend couldn’t attend the game because of Covid-19 restrictions. His offensive line coach supported him with a pep talk, and by telling him the Eagles were also his family.
“I hugged him and I cried and I said, ‘It’s game time,’” Mr. Mailata recalled. “The words of encouragement and reassurance that I wasn’t alone was a big part of how I coped with it.” He added, “Don’t be afraid to cry. Even big men cry.”
Like many professional athletes, Mr. Mailata had to overcome adversity to become a starting Eagles player—especially after he injured his back in 2018 and missed the 2019 season.
His coach, his girlfriend, and others helped. “I know that even if I wasn’t a football player they would still love me for the person I am,” he said.
Mr. Mailata also said that having regular conversations and opening up to those around him, including his therapist, helped reduce stress. “I learned over my years that talking to somebody is so beneficial, and you learn and grow from it as a person,” he said.
He also practices breathing techniques and grounding exercises that his therapist has taught him. “If you train your mind, then your body will follow” is Mr. Mailata’s philosophy.
Other ways he copes include a “no football talk” rule at home. He also plays guitar, piano, and videogames such as Fortnite and Call of Duty to help himself unwind.
Being in the public eye, Mr. Mailata hears a lot of opinions about him. “I’ve learned to block out the noise,” he said. “I’m confident in my ability to perform.” He said he’s learned to focus on the positive, and he shared this advice for when things get tough: “Don’t worry about what anyone says.”