Fallon's Mauga a blessed Jet
It's not the ending he expected Sunday, but Fallon's Josh Mauga is still in good spirits considering where he was this time last year.
“It's been definitely exciting. I've been truly blessed this season, especially after everything I've been through,” said Mauga, whose season with the Jets ended Sunday against the Steelers in the AFC Championship. “It's pretty cool to be the only Nevada guy left playing in the playoffs. I know it's exciting for my family and friends back home. I got a chance to play in the playoffs in front of them.”
Rewind the season to last winter and you find Mauga sitting at home watching the 2010 AFC title game with the Jets and Colts.
After the Jets lost to the Super Bowl runner-ups, Mauga got a call to rejoin New York. The 2005 Fallon grad spent the offseason getting back in football shape and had the summer program working in his favor before suffering a concussion in August. It took only two months for Mauga to get back to full strength and earn the promotion to the active roster just before Halloween. The Jets lost to the Packers at home in his first game but went on to claim a wild card to the playoffs where they knocked off the Colts and Patriots.
“There were definitely a lot great things that came out of this year,” said Mauga, who played on special teams and even took a few snaps on defense against the Patriots, Bills and Steelers. “I'm basically coming in as a rookie and played on special teams every play. I'm one of the few to make the playoffs, win and play in the AFC Championship game. It was a great year for me.”
Mauga worked for one of the most outgoing coaches in the league. And that coach didn't quit on Mauga when he could have after the concussion that ended his preseason.
“It's great. Rex knows a lot about football, especially about the defense,” Mauga said. “He's come up with brilliant game plans on defense. I couldn't ask for a better coach. He's a great motivator. He always gets us roiled up.”
Next season, though, could be a different story.
The NFL is dangerously heading toward a lockout for the 2011 season if a deal isn't reach by March. While it's out of Mauga's control, he said it's still important to stay in shape and hope that the labor dispute can be resolved.
“Things were going good for me and now there's a possible lockout,” said Mauga, who has two years left in his contract. “If there is, that won't be the end of the world. I still have a semester left (at Nevada) and definitely want to finish that up.”
But to the common folk who don't earn millions upon millions playing football, the Fallon native seemed perplexed and wished every player would put football ahead of the money issues.
“It's tough to say. Sometimes it feels like ‘come on man, our guys want more money,'” he said. “It's supposed to be about the game. To me, I'm happy to be here. Why do you need more money? You get bonuses. At the same time, though, you see guys health-wise and they get more banged up and their career doesn't matter. They want more money. It's just crazy.”
In the meantime, though, Mauga plans on returning to Fallon this weekend to spend time with his family and friends before reporting back for duty. Mauga's said his family has been supportive through the good and bad, as his sisters and brothers tried to find him on the TV every Sunday.
“I talked to them after every game. They watch every game,” he said. “It's like the book ‘Finding Waldo,' except it's Finding Joshua. They're glued to the TV, looking for me on the sidelines and on the field.”