Welcome to the debut of Off the Beat. Each week, I'll be digging into a story that may not have made any of the national headlines, but must be told nonetheless. Today's column features the Eagles' Thunder From Down Under, Jordan Mailata.
Jordan Mailata is a gifted athlete, a soulful singer, and also the author of one of my favorite storylines from the preseason, but it may not be the storyline you have in mind.
Mailata's journey from international rugby sensation to NFL player has been nothing short of incredible. Entering the NFL Draft, he'd never played a down of football in his life, but after arriving in Philadelphia, he continued to make strides during OTAs and Training Camp. The Sydney, Australia native then put on a show during the preseason, earning praise from his teammates, coaches, and members of the national media. When the Eagles' 53-player roster was announced on Saturday, Mailata made the cut.
But to me, the real story revolves around one phrase, brought to light by the 6-8 Aussie: Ooga booga booga.
After the preseason opener against Pittsburgh, Mailata shared how the Eagles' offensive linemen were taught to react to a defender who is offsides. It's a tactic dubbed Ooga booga booga inside the offensive line room.
This three-word phrase really stuck with me. I had to get to the bottom of how and why this became a teaching point from offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland.
But upon digging into the origin, I learned a truth that blew the story wide open. As I spoke to Jordan at his locker earlier this week, he unearthed a truth that's sure to make headlines.
"Coach Stout said that if someone jumps offsides, you've got to jump too," Mailata said. "He goes bug-eyed and he goes, 'When he jumps offsides, you've gotta jump too and you gotta scare him! Ooga booga booga!' but apparently I said it wrong. It's not 'ooga booga booga.'
"It's 'oogity boogity.'"
Now there's a small, but important difference between those two phrases. Or at least there is in my opinion. Ooga booga booga invokes images of cartoons from my childhood, whileoogity boogity sounds more like something Darrell Waltrip would say to start a NASCAR race.
After Mailata threw many an "ooga booga booga" around after the Pittsburgh game, Coach Stoutland was apparently not too keen on being misquoted.
"I was like 'Coach, you said ooga booga booga first,' and he said, 'No, I didn't. I said oogity boogity.' He was upset that I got the line wrong, but he was happy that the guy jumped and I jumped too."
The next question became, 'Well, how do defenders react to a 6-8, 346-pound man shouting 'ooga booga booga!' at them?' Mailata explained that it's not so much about saying any words as just acting out the jump. Ooga booga booga is more of an idea that an actual phrase. Another twist to the story.
Whatever the correct terminology may be, the fact of the matter is that Mailata did his job by drawing flags when his opponent jumped. Throughout the course of the preseason, Mailata ooga booga booga'd (or oogity boogity'd, if you so choose) three flags against the defense, including one against former New York Jets outside linebacker Obum Gwacham.
Mailata says the offensive line hasn't been keeping tallies of catching guys jumping early, but he wishes they would.
"That would be nice," he said. "I would be leading. But the preseason doesn't count apparently."
Mailata then drew an imaginary tally with his finger on a blank space in his locker.
Rest assured, if someone has to keep track of this year's Ooga Booga Booga - or Oogity Boogity - rankings, this writer would be happy to step up to the plate.