Last week, American university student Jack Higgins had a glut of new followers on Twitter. A cursory search led him to realise some fans had mistaken him for new Richmond Tigers draftee, also Jack Higgins.
American Jack issued the following response:
I called Jack in America to find out more about mistaken identity and the 5’7″ prospect we were all sleeping on.
Jack Higgins: I’m a little bit blown away by how much has come from that tweet or whatever. It still kind of blows my mind.
Ken Sakata: Well, we are loving it so far.
I love the enthusiasm from everyone in Australia. Everyone loves it, everyone’s been friendly.
Um, honestly I did think it was rugby though. I’m not going to lie to you. I thought it was rugby. I looked up the team a little bit. I guess I should’ve done a little bit more research. Could’ve saved myself a little bit there.
Are you fairly up to date on what the sport is, right now?
I’ve actually looked into it a bit more over the past 24 hours, trying to get a better feel for what everybody’s actually talking about.
I like it a lot. I played football for 12-13 years of my life. And I like the physical aspect of that. You gotta be tough to play.
There are no pads.
No pads. I have a lot of respect for that. Playing with no pads, that’s tough!
So tell me about yourself, Jack. What are you doing in university right now?
Right now I’m a sophomore at Ball State University. I study marketing, and kind of stay busy with that. You know, I’m pretty passionate about working out and sport. I’m trying to potentially work for a professional sports franchise here in the US, truly any sport honestly, I’m open to all opportunities.
What sports do you follow?
Huge football fan, huge football fan. Big fan of the Indianapolis Colts. (They’re) only about an hour from where I go to school, so I go to the games every now and again. Big basketball fan too, but being as short as I am, I knew I never had a career as far as basketball went-
You’re 5’7” aren’t you?
5’ 7” yes. I always thought I would hit another growth spurt but I think God might be holding that one out on me, so. We’ll see.
What we have here in Australia, is that these kids go for the draft combine. It’s very similar to American sports. It’s how fast you can run, how high you can jump. But it’s also quite mental.
All the intangibles and everything.
Correct. They go for interviews. Our favourite questions are the ones that throw them off and test their mental toughness. If you’re happy, we’ll run you through the gamut as well.
I would love to hear it.
It is challenging, and some of them are a bit weird, so I apologise in advance.
Oh yeah. All good. All good.
In Australia, there’s something called ‘sledging’, pretty much an advanced version of trash-talking. It gets personal, it gets into families, it gets very psychologically damaging.
So we’ll get you to think of a sledge. This is all you know about your opposing player: he has a sick two-year-old son.
I’ve- I’ve gotta come up with some dirt.
Just think of your best.
A sick two-year-old son? Wow. (Pause)
Oof. That’s a tough one.
Or you could just say ‘that’s crossing the line, that’s not for me’. We’re just trying to get a gauge of what you’re like.
As far as like children go- I don’t know. I feel like I couldn’t cross that line. But I do like to trash-talk. I’m sure if I thought about it a little bit I could definitely come up with something. But that’s a tough one.
You’ve elected to leave that one alone.
I’ve chosen to leave that one alone.
We’ve got awards like the MVP, it’s called the Brownlow.
Would you rather have two MVP awards OR be part of two team championships where you are most known for playing very badly?
This is gonna make me sound kind of selfish but I feel like I just want to have the two individual MVP awards. Just because, if I’m going out there- I’m a big competitor.
I feel like if you’re good enough to show out and your team’s not that good and can’t get that overall award that you wanted or anything like that. I mean you deserve to be honoured for something.
I don’t know. If we won the championship and I played bad- that wouldn’t really be me. I would have a hard time accepting that I didn’t have a large role in getting that championship to the team.
I would probably ball-out all year then win an MVP.
There’s something in our sport called ‘staging’, where people fake injuries to get free-kicks.
You suspect that your opponent- a serial stager, is faking another injury. His staging has resulted in multiple unfair suspensions to opponents this year. You could expose him by pushing him. You have a 0.01 percent chance of being wrong and rupturing his ACL. What do you do?
You know what, I’m pushing him. I’m pushing him. I feel like-honestly, if I’m out there, and I think this man’s a flopper or he’s a liar.
It’s not right, is it?
If that’s not holding up to the integrity of the game. I’m going to go over there and-
There are some people who are judge, jury and executioner. That seems like that’s your game, Jack.
Ohh yeah. Ohh yeah. I feel like if you do anything, you have to do it to the highest level. You gotta go out there and be a competitor. And usually the best one.
And if you rupture his ACL, maybe he wasn’t meant for sport.
Hey, maybe at that point he can go back and re-think things a little bit. Realise he shouldn’t-
He’s got a year to think about it I suppose. To consider his life.
He’ll be thinking of me the rest of his life.
Your team doctor wants to give you a pill that will make you 15 percent faster. This is technically a legal supplement, but due to a sponsorship deal with the drug company, only your club has access to it. Do you take it?
You know, I feel like if you’re placed in a situation where you’re lucky enough to have that competitive advantage, you’re not going to get in trouble, it’s within the rules-
I’m gonna go out there and I’m going to get my competitive advantage on the field. I would most definitely take it. As long as I know it’s not going to get me or the team into trouble. I see nothing wrong with it.
So let’s say they’re injections, they’re not just creams. You’re pretty happy your team doctor is a qualified medical practitioner. How far do you look into what he’s giving you?
I really want to know what’s going in my body. I’m almost a little bit paranoid in a way. I’d have to ask him right off the bat. At least see what it’s going to do. If it’s going to harm me in any way.
Some of your responsibilities mean that you have to give a talk to primary school students.
Part of the talk requires you to link your mobile- your cell phone to a projector. As you connect the cable, you realise that you have three windows open: Hardcore pornography, a terrorist donation site and a fully nude photo of yourself. You only have time to close /one/ window. Which window do you close?
You know what, I’m probably going to save myself from a lot of personal embarrassment and close the naked picture of myself.
Nobody definitely needs to see that. Not too pretty of a sight for anybody.
How would you describe your physicality?
My physicality? A lot of my friends kind of describe me as one of the more upbeat, kind of like a ‘rah-rah’ guy. I like to hype everybody up.
So, I consider myself to be a pretty physical guy.
I’m talking about how that would project on an image. On a phone. Not for public consumption, you would say?
Not for public consumption. No way, no way.
It’s good to have insight I guess. But you’ll be known as someone who surfs porn and potentially donates to terrorist organisations.
I uh- “I think somebody hacked my computer.”
That’s it. The hack defence. I think you’re ready to be an athlete.
I’m ready. Tell the Tigers to give me that contract.
You are talking to a childhood friend who plays for the team you are facing this week. He unintentionally let’s slip a key component of their game plan.
He has not noticed. Your friend is on the verge of being cut from the team. But your team has not won all year. What do you do?
You know what, if we have a competitive advantage that they don’t have on us- I feel like I’d almost set that aside. I wouldn’t say anything.
If we’re meant to win that game, we’re meant to win that game. I definitely couldn’t do that to a friend.
You’d ignore it.
Yeah, ignore it. “Yeah, what did you say, dude? I didn’t quite hear it.” One of those.
There’s something called ‘ducking’ in our sport. It’s a manoeuvre where you sacrifice your head and neck to get free-kicks. Some people are very good at it. Some people think it’s part of the game you have to live with.
What’s your view on ducking? Bearing in mind things like concussions and clinical depression as well.
This is a pretty good question for me. I’ve had six concussions in my life.
My senior year I played the first three games, but I suffered such a bad concussion, I had to miss the rest of our season. I missed school for two and a half months. I would literally just sit in my room and stare at the dark. Stare up at the ceiling, wearing sunglasses. It was not fun.
That sounds horrible.
Oh yeah. But I honestly believe that sports, especially your game, Australian Rules Football, it’s a physical game. You know that going in. I understand the concussion epidemic and everything like that but- you know what you’re getting into when you strap on the pads.
I wouldn’t take back any of the six concussions I got. Not at all. Not at all.
Each one of them sucked, but I’m in love with the sport too much to take each one of them away. I feel like if it’s a part of the game then you have to accept that.
That doesn’t quite make sense. You just said that it was horrible.
Oh yeah, that one hit close to home. I have a lot of good insight on that one.
You wouldn’t think those six concussions would make a difference in your decision-making process about concussions, potentially?
I get asked that a lot. You know what, I don’t think it does. I knew what I was signing up for. All football players, rugby players, all athletes who play contact sport. They know what they’re getting into.
Would you rather have a secret drug addiction that nobody knows about OR have a false, lifelong reputation as a drug addict that virtually everyone- media, fans, football personnel, believes is true?
I would honestly have to say the one that’s real, but people don’t know. I feel like my family and those around me- I wouldn’t want to bring embarrassment of any kind.
To have that reputation, no matter what you say, no matter how much you try to convince somebody that somethings not true- people will always think what they want.
It would follow you around.
It would make it hard to live a great lifestyle and enjoy life.
You are given a peek into the next ten years: you will never play football. You play ten seasons of sport in an inferior league. Think not the NFL, but the Canadian football League.
In this future, you are 10kg overweight, the worst player on the team but seem genuinely, deliriously happy. Do you accept this future?
I would do anything in my power to make sure that didn’t happen, but life’s too short. I’m overweight, the worst player on my team, but I still get to do what I love every day. No matter how bad I am, I would rather take the happiness.
Ok, last question.
It’s the championship game. You see an opponent charging into your captain at high speed. This will definitely end with a catastrophic knee injury.
You have two options here. Number 1) let it happen or 2) you can push your captain into the nearest goalpost, breaking his ankle.
Oof. You’re saying like a ‘catastrophic knee injury’ right?
This is a career-ender.
Oh, I’m pushing him.
But if you do this, your captain will never believe your reasoning. None of the cameras will pick up the angle that you’re seeing. The only person that will be convinced of this is you. What do you do?
It’s just one of those things where I feel like I have to go with the faith, the faith option on it. You’ll take a lot of hits, and a lot of people would be hating on you, but I feel like I couldn’t let that happen to a teammate, a friend or anything like that.
Like I said, I’m pushing him as hard as I can against the goal post.
Mate, you’re a champion. If I’m a recruiter, I’m drafting you in the first round.Well, you know. I’m a free-agent still right now. I’ll start putting together some film.
You can follow 5′ 7″ marketing student Jack Higgins (@JackHiggins23) on Twitter.