Dickson’s crazy year in punter’s paradise
From Sutherland to Seattle, AFL to NFL, anonymous to famous.
On the eve of Monday's Super Bowl in Atlanta, Australian-born Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson has spoken about his new life among fame and fortune of America's NFL.
Life back in Australia remains the same. A largely unknown Dickson was spotted on Sunday walking past the Sydney Opera House and up Macquarie Street without a single autograph or selfie.
Dickson though has become a punting sensation in the US.
An All-Pro this year, Dickson spoke with The Daily Telegraph about a surreal ride which has taken him from Kirrawee High School in Sydney's south to the glitz and glamour of American football.
"I was in the car and my mum dropped me here and I said those words - I'm living the dream," said Dickson, reflecting on his breakout debut season in the NFL.
"It takes a while to sit back and absorb everything because when you're in the season it's one week at a time, ignore the last week and move on. Looking back, so much happened, it was a crazy year.
"The amount of people in America, there is so much glitz, entertainment and business. There is so much that goes on in that sport. It's a lot more than just sport, it's a whole culture.
"During a game, sometimes I will look up and go: 'Wow, what is going on? How did I end up here'.
"Looking back now at the stadiums, even in college, playing in front of 100,000 people, it's insane really. They are insane over there about their football.
"You sometimes see a photo and think that I played in that stadium with all those fans. That's when you soak it all - when you're looking back.
"I definitely still have a lot of things I want to improve on but it's good to have a year of NFL experience under my belt. I have to back it up. It's hard to do it one year, it will be even harder to back it up."
Dickson, 23, grew up in the Shire before learning his trade with University of NSW in the local Sydney competition before being drafted into the Sydney Swans AFL Academy.
He played US college football in Texas before joining Seattle in the 2018 draft.
Dickson doesn't have a strong affiliation with rugby league but has a soft spot for the Cronulla Sharks.
The Aussie created a further stir this season by restarting play in the NFL games with an old fashioned drop kick, rather than a placed kick off.
"Normally when a kicker approaches the ball you know which way he is going to kick it but with a drop kick you can kind of disguise that a bit," Dickson said.
"We do a lot of squib drop kicks which are harder to catch. If there is an open area where we can try and do a weird, spinning drop kick, we will."
To celebrate the streaming of Monday's Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams on Kayo Sports, a game of US footy was played on a barge in Sydney Harbour by some of Australia's best known sportsmen.
It was without doubt the most spectacular venues for an NFL promotion.
"Being here on the harbour it's beautiful, this set-up is unreal," Dickson said.
Dickson and former NFL star Colin Scotts were there, as was South Sydney player Dane Gagai, Brisbane's Kodi Nikorima, Adelaide Crows' key forward Josh Jenkins, BBL leading run scorer D'Arcy Short and Wallabies five-eighth Bernard Foley.
Local players from the Forestville-based Northern Sydney Rebels went through some drills on a 55 metre barge with full NFL markings.
Asked who would win the Super Bowl, Dickson said: "It's so hard to go against Tom Brady (Patriots quarter back) and Bill Belichick (Patriots head coach). Brady has been there eight times and won five."
Scotts offered special praise for Dickson.
"It is really exciting to get to know him," Scotts said. "Good on him. He is really doing Australia proud, the way he revolutionising kicking.
"I hope he will be an inspiration to any kicker picking up a rugby league ball or rugby union ball. They might now pick up an NFL ball and have a crack."
Super Bowl LIII (New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams) kicks off on Kayo on Monday, February 4 from 9.30am AEST. New customers can sign up by February 4 and stream all Super Bowl action plus all of February for just $5. SIGN UP NOW!