When Jy Bond was two years old, his father gave him an American football and a Raiders helmet. As typical with young children, Jy would run around the family house with the helmet, often times colliding with things and attempting to tackle family members. From an early age, it was clear Bond and American football were bound to intersect.
But Bond also had football in his blood as his father, Graeme, was an accomplished Australian rules football player. His dad’s passion for the game quickly transferred to Jy. As Bond became an accomplished football player in his own right—a game in which kicking is the predominant way to move the ball and score points—he became intrigued about the possibility of playing in the United States.
“I was always able to kick the ball high and far, which suited the American game,” Bond said. “So I thought that one day I could possibly be good as a punter in America.”
Bond even received interest and some scholarship offers from American colleges after he visited his step brother in the United States who had signed a scholarship to play college baseball. Although Bond decided to remain in Australia, he said he could have envisioned himself playing college football in America.
Then a few years later, Bond’s interest in American football was further piqued when his friend, Sav Rocca, an accomplished Australian football player, began training for the National Football League. In 2006, Rocca had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills, but unfortunately was not invited to training camp.
Motivated by his failed tryout, Rocca worked hard and in 2007, the Philadelphia Eagles invited Rocca to training camp. After a camp filled with 50-yard punts and one that traveled reportedly over 65 yards, Rocca, at 33 years old, became the Eagles starting punter. The oldest rookie in the NFL in 2007 has been a mainstay in the league since.
Rocca had followed in the footsteps of another Australian NFL punter, Darren Bennett, who has also mentored and coached Bond. Bennett, who initially contacted the San Diego Chargers coaching staff in 1993 while on his honeymoon in California, became a Pro Bowl punter in 1995 as a 30-year-old.
He added another Pro Bowl appearance in 2000, and played a decade in the NFL.
Bond uses his mentor’s path to success as hope that one day he too can stick in the NFL.
“Darren was the pioneer and has always been great to me,” Bond said. “With a little bit of help and some more experience, I think great things can happen to me.”
Bond has signed with both the Miami Dolphins (2009) and New York Giants (2010), and with each NFL stop, he has improved his game. Because Australian football is vastly different from the NFL, Bond has had to learn the intricacies of being an NFL punter, including directional punting, receiving snaps, and acting as the holder on field goals and extra points.
“The UFL was great and the perfect opportunity for me,” Bond said. “The league gave me the opportunity to get game experience. I know I still have a lot to improve on, but I became more comfortable as the season went on.”
Re-signed by Hartford in 2011, Bond hopes the UFL will have a season this year, something that currently is no guarantee with the league’s financial issues. However, the league has made it clear that they anticipate there will be football in the fall.
“I really hope that it can all work out because I think it’s a great league and has a great future if they can resolve these issues,” Bond said “The league provides a great opportunity for guys like me and recent college guys.”
Bond is still young in punters age and hopes his arduous training this offseason will provide fruitful one day soon.
“To make the NFL, it takes the right time and right situation,” he said. “I am just waiting for my next opportunity, and I will be ready when it comes.”