Some of his early hiccups behind him following his recruitment by the Collingwood Magpies at the end of 2014, American Mason Cox’s campaign to date in the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition coincided nicely with the Pies’ nice run.
Collingwood currently finds itself in unfamiliar territory, second on the ladder and part of a four-club group that is waiting for any slip by the Richmond Tigers to move ahead.
Cox, a code hopping experiment that has worked out much better than some of the others we have seen in the past, seems to have figured out the game, at least so it would be thought, if for no reason other than his five-goal haul against the Melbourne Demons in Round 12.
The tall Texan did not always find the game of footy so natural.
Appearing on Fox Footy’s On The Mark, Cox spoke of his early struggles and first encounters with Nathan Buckley.
“I handballed it back to him and it went about two metres over his head and five metres back.” At least Cox had some grasp of the metric system and did not use “yards” to describe his flop.
“He (Buckley) just gave me this look — I’ll never forget it. It was like, ‘What the hell have we just recruited?’”
Cox was thrown into the fire straight from the pan. He was a basketball player in the U.S., and admitted to not even knowing of the existence of Australian Rules football.
Fast forward to the current season, however, and the 211 cm ruck has been a solid contributor on a weekly basis as a backup to Brodie Grundy.
Cox recounts another incident from his early days, when he took a mark in training.
“At training I took a mark and there was no one in front of me so I just took off,” Cox said. “I ran about 50 metres and tried to kick for goal, when everybody just stopped and started laughing. “I was like, ‘What’s going on? What are you all doing?’ They said, ‘You know you have to bounce the ball?
Just like basketball, mate, but for the fact that NBA refs have not called traveling since the early days of Shaquille O’Neal’s career.