Bitter division rivals New England Patriots and New York Jets face off for the 125th time this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
So, it’s official. Former NRL star Valentine Holmes has made the grade in the NFL’s international players pathways program and has a deal with the New York Jets. Predictably, social media has blown up.
He may not play in the 2019 regular season under his deal, but will be part of the practice squad and take part in pre-season games.
The dream of playing in the NFL is well and truly alive for the 23-year-old, who had a short but decorated career in the NRL, which included representative honours for both Queensland and Australia.
We've added Valentine Holmes as part of the @NFL's International Player Pathway program.
— #TakeFlight (@nyjets) April 8, 2019
The former NRL star returned to Australia yesterday after the international player combine, and it didn’t take long for the Australian media to call him out for not talking.
ESPN journalist Laurie Horesh was just one of many lining up to take a shot at the Australian media for their reaction.
Valentine Holmes one week ago: “I’ve got about a week left in the program then I’m heading home for a break.”
Valentine Holmes comes home one week later.
“Val why are you home?”
“Have you signed a $60M deal yet?”
“Are you a side receiver or a running forward?”
— Laurie Horesh (@LaurieHoresh) April 8, 2019
Holmes will be joined at the Jets by fellow Australian Lachlan Edwards. It doesn’t take an expert to know where all the attention will be though.
Can’t wait for the Australia Media to rock up to New Jersey for Valentine Holmes and just walk past Lachlan Edwards on a daily basis not even knowing he’s actually on the Jets roster.
— Josh – Guzman Wye Gomez (@jwyeNFL) April 8, 2019
Australian media outlets weren’t the only ones in the firing line, with Holmes branded a rugby player, rather than a rugby league one, and US media organisations seemingly not caring to correct their mistake.
"Former Rugby Player Valentine Holmes" shows how insignificant Holmes is in America at the moment.
— Brent Ford (@BrentFord26) April 8, 2019
Former London Broncos academy player Benji Hammonds also took to social media, calling rugby league players the most versatile athletes there are.
So Christian Wade yesterday and now Valentine Holmes today has signed for the Jets. Rugby players are the most versatile athletes there is, I am chuffed for them both and hope to see them play next season ????
— Benji Hammonds (@B_Hammonds) April 8, 2019
It didn’t take long for some to predict Australian fans would get behind Holmes and the Jets throughout the season.
Thank you Jets!
You just instantly picked up a few hundred thousand new fans!!
Great year ahead!! #TakeFlight
— martin (@martin82982780) April 8, 2019
The only time I'll ever support the Jets.. ???? Onya, @val_holmes1!!
— Beau Ushay (@BeauJUshay) April 8, 2019
Some were also asking whether the signing of the Aussie was a marketing ploy to try and increase the popularity of the sport down under, where it has traditionally struggled to gain a strong foothold.
Congratulations to Valentine Holmes, it's an awesome achievement.
Does anyone think that him joining the NY Jets has a fair whack of:
"sign him, let's promote the game in AU" type marketing by the NFL,
— Grant (@Grant_Turl) April 9, 2019
I hope Valentine Holmes has enough star power to generate a bigger NFL following in Australia. The Jets have built a dangerous team around Darnold in the off-season, and would be exciting to watch for newcomers. Especially since AFC East looks vulnerable.
— Ben Downie (@Ben_Downie) April 9, 2019
Of course, some could also see the funny side of the team name.
Breaking: Valentine Holmes joins Newtown Jets.
— Steven Russo (@russos1991) April 8, 2019
Meanwhile, North Queensland Cowboys supporters will be struggling with the news, given there were reports Holmes would sign for the club in the coming days or weeks.
— bet365_aus (@bet365_aus) April 8, 2019