Aussie Bryan Uproots Family

Chris Bryan and his wife and 14-month-old son are living in a Green Bay hotel as he competes with Tim Masthay for the punting job. Bryan talked to Packer Report about his new life, both on and off the field.

Can Australian import Chris Bryan become the Green Bay Packers' punter?

Maybe.

But first, there's a trip to his Green Bay hotel room, where he lives with his wife and 14-month-old son.

"It keeps it a little bit more normal," Bryan told Packer Report. "You get home from practice and you play with him and have to give him a bath. It keeps you a little grounded."

Bryan, who played Australia's version of professional football from 2005 through 2008, arrived in Los Angeles on March 9, but his NFL dream runs deeper. His first individual workout was with the Packers on March 16 — thanks to a YouTube clip of his practice sessions back home. He tried out on a Monday morning and signed a three-year contract around lunchtime.

"It's been a two-year process, from first thinking, ‘OK, let's try and do it,' and then doing the training for a good 12 months and getting good enough to send over some clips and get some interest," Bryan said. "In the meantime, I was still playing Australian football. Australian football life was on its way out and I had a new challenge. We went for it."

Mentored in Australia by countryman Nathan Chapman — who was signed by the Packers in 2004 but never really had a fair chance because of the third-round pick used that year on B.J. Sander — Bryan comes into his new career with his eyes wide open.

Changing careers is nothing to take lightly, no matter your walk of life. Doing so while uprooting your family to a new continent only adds to the challenge and stresses.

"She was OK about it," Bryan said of his wife. "She's been there to support me the whole time with Australian football. It was definitely a family decision. If she would have said, ‘No, we're staying in Australia,' I probably wouldn't be here. She's been great in supporting me with that."

While Bryan has a golden opportunity to land a job for a team that desperately needs a punter, there are obviously no guarantees. He'll battle former Kentucky standout Tim Masthay for the job through the offseason and, presumably, training camp. The Packers wouldn't have signed Bryan if he didn't have a realistic chance of winning the job, but the sacrifices that he and his family have made will have zero influence on the selection of the final roster.

"Didn't really cross our minds," he said when I asked if he ever thought this whole odyssey was a little crazy. "We're only 28 years old. I figured I'd come over, give it a crack, give it a go for 12 months. If for whatever reason it doesn't work out, I'll go home. I'm still 28, 29 years old. Then I can go get a job and live the normal life. We're big on new experiences and experiencing life and different cultures and so forth. There was no real hesitation in saying, ‘Let's give it a go.'"

Reporters only have gotten to see Bryan and Masthay twice, and those early returns would give Masthay a slight edge. But that's just a snippet of what the coaches have seen, and there are three more weeks of organized team activities, a three-day minicamp and training camp for Bryan to make his move.

"Really good, man," Bryan said. "Really enjoying my time so far. It's a learning process. I'm learning every day and really enjoying it. I've been working pretty hard. I'm working on my consistency and just fine-tuning so hopefully I'm ready to go by training camp. I'm looking forward to the practice games."

Before those preseason games, however, there's a lot of time in the family's new "home" and a lot of playtime with his world-traveler of a baby boy.

"He's only a young fella and he doesn't really know where he is anyway. He's enjoying it, too," Bryan said with a smile.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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