Valentine Holmes has traded in a rugby league football for a new ball.
The two-sport athlete is something that is rare in sports today. Given how specialized everything has become in the world of sport as a whole. But just like athletes such as Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson have done successfully in the past, there are still players trying to prove that they are capable of doing great things in more than one form of athletic competition.
The latest example of this is Australian Valentine Holmes. A talented rugby league player who is looking to make his mark in American football as a member of the New York Jets.
Valentine Holmes gives up rugby and money
It should be noted that Valentine Holmes is an incredibly talented rugby league player. He was in the middle of a successful career as a part of Australia’s National Rugby League. One of the best rugby league club competitions in the world. And he has also been seen as good enough to take part in World Cup competition, having previously represented Australia in that competition as well. So, Holmes’ decision to pursue a career in American football must have required him to make a legitimately difficult choice regarding his future.
It also meant making a difficult financial choice as well. By choosing to take part in the NFL as a member of the practice squad for the Jets, Holmes is poised to make about a fifth of what he was in line to make had he accepted an offer from a club in the NRL. That kind of a decision is never easy for an athlete to make. Especially one who is at or near his athletic prime and could be maximizing his earning potential. But the decision for Valentine Holmes has been an interesting one—and one that hasn’t come without its justifiable reasons.
Understanding Holmes’ decision
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about Valentine Holmes’ decision to jump from the NRL to the NFL is the fact that the NFL offers exposure that the NRL doesn’t. While the NRL is massively popular in Australia, the NFL is gaining traction all over the world. With the international expansion of the league having become a priority for commissioner Roger Goodell in recent years.
Holmes’ pursuit of his NFL dreams isn’t glamorous financially or in terms of the team he has latched on to. Given the New York Jets’ current status in the league. However, based on the increasing popularity of the NFL internationally—with sell-out games in capital cities such as London and Mexico City—along with the fact that the NFL is increasingly investing in new partnerships with a strong focus on fan interaction (as evidenced by the recently-launched site FoxBet), Holmes’ decision may very well prove to be more than just about dollars and cents.
Holmes’ NFL outlook
The final piece of this puzzle is figuring out where Valentine Holmes fits in the overall scheme of the NFL. Given that the Jets made a big splash this offseason by signing one of the top running backs in the league, Le’Veon Bell, it is unlikely that he is going to ascend to the team’s 53-man starting roster any time soon. However, his time with the Jets’ practice squad could prove valuable. Given that he will be able to learn from one of the best in the game at his position.
Holmes showed some explosiveness in the Jets’ preseason games when he was given the opportunity to possess the ball. It would seem that a team deficient in running back talent would be able to use him out of the backfield. This is especially true given that Holmes’ rugby league background would already give him an edge over many running backs in catching passes. As that position doesn’t always lend itself to proficiency as a receiver. If nothing else, his unique skill set should be worth a look for teams that are destined to struggle this season.