JOSH Bartel hasn’t given up on his dream of a career as a NFL punter.
Bartel recently signed a two-year deal with Canadian team Hamilton last month and hopes a stint in the CFL will boost his chances of an NFL contract.
The former Wodonga footballer, who spent three months trialling in the US last year, leaves for Hamilton, about an hour south of Toronto, on May 23.
“It’s pretty hard to break straight into the NFL so, hopefully, this helps,” Bartel said.
“I’ll do the work and hopefully my stats stack up. I’m kicking well.”
NFL powerhouse Green Bay Packers looked at Bartel last year.
But he said a lockout at the time — when the NFL and its players could not agree to a new collective bargaining agreement — had been a major setback to his career.
“It basically ruined my chances last year,” he said.
“I had a workout with Green Bay but they were happy with their punter.
“The lockout certainly didn’t help.”
The 27-year-old has spent almost two years pursuing his punting dream under Prokick Australia’s program.
Bartel’s coach, former NFL punter and AFL footballer, Nathan Chapman, said there was no doubt Bartel’s two-year Canadian deal would improved his chances of ending up in the NFL.
“It opens up a whole new world of opportunity for him,” Chapman said.
“He’s been given this chance and contract.
“Now he’s got to go and beat the other guy on the roster for a starting spot during the training camp.
“He needs to focus on punting well.
“If he doesn’t, he won’t be playing CFL or NFL.”
Chapman said Bartel’s consistency was his biggest strength as a punter.
“The Canadian league will suit him,” he said.
“He might end up enjoying that more and want to stay there rather than go to the NFL. Who nows?”
The Canadian season kicks off on June 29.