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Spadaro: Success hasn't changed Jordan Mailata

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro

Jordan Mailata is one who generally stays in the moment, but lately he's been having some moments of reflection. His journey to the NFL is well-documented by now – the Australian rugby player who chased the dream to play American football and who has taken the necessary step-by-step approach to become one of the best left tackles in the league – and only now has Mailata really put it all together as he prepares to be married.

"I'm like, 'I'm getting married! I'm in my sixth year in the NFL!' I've been thinking about everything that has happened in my life up until this moment," he said. "It's truly a blessing."

It's a blessing and it's remarkable and it's still ascending. The story isn't yet complete. Mailata has the one-day-at-a-time mindset down cold and he isn't about to change. It has served him so very well from the two seasons he spent on Injured Reserve with a back injury to the 15 games and 10 starts of playing time he saw in 2020 to cementing down the starting job and starring at left tackle the last two years.

Mailata is adored by fans and in public he gives it right back, perfectly playing what can be a very difficult line for many. He doesn't lose his sense of purpose with all the love, and that is a sign of a man who is mature and someone who just understands and enjoys naturally the role with those who worship the Eagles.

"I'm a social butterfly, but the maturity aspect for sure has helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses and what I'm good at and what I'm not good at," Mailata said. "Also, the conduct that I hold myself to allows me to just be honest with myself. When you have someone like coach Stout (Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland) who is going to keep you on your toes and keep you honest, I think that's where it's come from. I always came from that background. My parents raised me like that. When I came here, I had that continuous support that has kept me grounded, kept me honest, keeping me to be me."

Those first two seasons when Mailata was adjusting his body to the physical rigors of the NFL game, there were some creeping moments. Like, would he ever get healthy enough to play day after day and week after week in such a physical sport? Could he make that move to the NFL game?

Now, Mailata can admit to the periodic moments of doubt.

"Yeah, for sure. I wondered if I was really built for this, because I hurt my back twice in back-to-back years and I asked myself, 'Am I for this sport?' I never had an injury up until then, so it got me doubting," Mailata said. "But the training room here was what kept me going. They were positive every day as I rehabbed. They were positive I was going to make a change and they believed in me. Coach Stout never gave up on me and he fought for me and I got lucky, man. The environment here in this building and with this team, that's what has helped me along so much."

The turning point for Mailata, he said, came after he signed a contract extension in 2021, just prior to the start of the regular season. The Eagles were preparing to leave for Atlanta to open the regular season in Atlanta and Mailata – a seventh-round draft pick in 2018 – signed a new deal.

There was pressure, no question. Mailata knew he had to show everyone that he was worthy of the new contract. But there was also a feeling of ease. He had a sense of understanding that everyone was on his side.

"The locker room, my coaches, they all believed in me. I knew the game plan. I worked my butt off to know what I was doing and once I had that feeling that I was totally prepared, that's when I truly felt that I had turned the corner," Mailata said. "I went out and I played my game. I went out and focused and relaxed. I went out there and it felt great for me."

Mailata knows there is more growth. He was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, but that clearly isn't the goal. He estimates that he's at 80 to 85 percent of what he can be – "The peanut jar is nearly full, but that last 15 percent, it's like finding a needle in a haystack now and being honest with yourself to fill the jar with those peanuts – so there is a lot of work to be done." The test and the challenge are right in front of Mailata and he embraces all of that.

"I'm working on it every day. That's the mindset," he said. "This is my sixth year and I can't believe I'm saying that. More to go. Much more to go. That's what I'm striving for, to keep pushing and improving my game and having more team success. I'm loving every bit of this, having fun, working hard.

"It's been a dream, really, to be here. But I know there is more to go and that's what I'm working towards."

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