New Jersey native Jon Mullin enjoying life quarterbacking a new team in Mexico

After spending a pair of seasons playing in the Polish Football League, New Jersey native, Jon Mullin is in the midst of his first season as the quarterback of the Reyes de Jalisco in Mexico’s Liga de Futbol Americano (LFA).

That’s quite a leap and a total change of scenery for the 23-year-old signal caller.

A graduate of Wesley College, an NCAA Division III school in Delaware, Mullin has taken a slightly different route than many by first landing in Poland two years ago to play football and then heading back to North America this season to play in Mexico.

In this exchange, Mullin talks about his time playing football internationally, his time with the Reyes and what the game is like in Mexico as a whole. Mullin also goes into detail about his life off the field and his ambitions beyond the gridiron.

Photo: Chris Schutz

AFI: Considering you are from New Jersey, what made you decide to play internationally in the first place?

Mullin: After my senior year at Wesley College, I thought my playing career was over. But I signed up for and I ended up doing my internship for my senior seminar. I was in the office one day and I kept getting messages from Europlayers going: “What is this? I don’t remember signing up for this.” I then looked on the website and there were a couple of contract offers, and I realized that maybe I’m not done playing, maybe I can still do this. So I ended up looking at the offers seeing which ones are the best for me. A couple of players from my college who were quarterbacks either have played or are still playing in Europe right now, and they were a huge help with the process. I hit them up to see which teams are reliable and what teams are a great fit for me.

AFI: So far through your time playing internationally, have you felt a little bit of a culture shock?

Mullin: Ye, completely. From the food to the people to the street signs. You’re not going to a 7 Eleven in Poland, you’re going to Żabka. However, in Mexico, because it is closer to the United States, there are more chain restaurants in Mexico that U.S. states would have. Obviously, they have a McDonald’s, but they have many more places that someone in the states would see. The only main real difference is learning the language of Spanish, which I’m trying to do right now, and it’s a lot easier than learning Polish I would say.

AFI: How did you end up playing in Mexico in the first place after playing in the PFL?

Mullin: You know it’s pretty funny, I honestly was just at home waiting for an offer and out of nowhere on my WhatsApp, the general manager from the team hooked me up. He was like: “Are you a free agent?” And I told him I was and then we started talking about contract details and I was all hands on deck.

AFI: Why Reyes de Jalisco in particular?

Mullin: It was the team that contacted me from the league. It was a new organization, and it was just a great opportunity to prove myself and bring another championship to a team. So, it was just another opportunity that I was given and I took it as it came.

Photo: Jean-Francois Nicollet

AFI: What is it like communicating with coaches or players that don’t predominantly speak English? Do they speak English a lot with the Reyes?

Mullin: For the most part, every player understands English. Maybe they don’t know how to communicate because it is a second language for them and they are still trying to learn it, as I’m trying to learn Spanish. So, it’s little things here and there. With the players, I’m always speaking in English for the plays, so they know the basics of the language. For my coaches, there are a lot of coaches that are very good with English, so again, there is still a little bit of a language barrier because it is a second language for them. But for the most part, there’s not really a drop off with language because Spanish is easy to learn, and just picking up on little things is key for myself and the team. Just so that way we can communicate on the field.

AFI: What is your relationship like with head coach Alfaro as a quarterback?

Mullin: As a quarterback, it’s tremendous to have Coach Alfaro. I’ve been blessed to have great coaches in my past, but Coach Alfaro is a great key and a great asset to my gameplay. Mostly because he knows the game and has won championships like myself, and he has a football knowledge that you respect, because when you play internationally, you don’t know what to expect, but the guy knows what he is talking about. Even from when I first arrived, he made sure that I was going to know every read and every play through and through like the back of my hand. He’s just a great guy. If I had to compare him to anybody, I would say Coach Trask, who was my college coach. They are very similar and it’s just a great asset to have to be with Coach Alfaro. 


AFI: After your first three games with the Reyes, can you describe your own play and the play of your team and how would you like to see it improve?

Mullin: As an offense, we know we definitely have a lot of weapons. Maybe they all haven’t been used yet, but through the first three games, I think the offense has progressively gotten better. Yes, our last game didn’t go our way, the scoreboard shows that, but behind the scenes, we have a lot of young guys. I’m just waiting for that one game where everything clicks and everybody sees what the Reyes de Jalisco is all about. I don’t think we have shown our true colors or our true form because like I said, we are young. Other than that, I know we have to execute better. We have been to the red zone a handful of times and that’s obviously again on the scoreboard where you only have a touchdown a game from the offense. But, like I said, there is a ton of potential and a lot of athletes that we have. I’m not worried about anything, I’m just more excited to see when everything comes together, I’d like to see us click on all cylinders and just let loose. We were just a play away from getting in the lead. Credit to our defense, they hold it down for us every game. 


AFI: What else have you been doing in Jalisco besides playing football?

Mullin: When I was finishing up Wesley, I had an opportunity with my seminar to keep pursuing my education career. So right now, I’m finishing my Master’s, I’m currently on my last course for my degree. I’ve also been doing the youth program here as well for like, flag football for 8-15 year olds, and I’m also coaching a high school team as well. So, I don’t have too much free time but you know, I still go to the gym, do my homework and I coach as well.

AFI: What is the fanbase like in Mexico?

Mullin: I can’t compare it to anything else. They are so welcoming. The fans, even when you lose, are still with you. They aren’t coming at you with hatred. They are just so welcoming and so supportive. The fanbase is probably number one in the league. The Reyes fanbase has been incredible and tremendous.

AFI: What do you think of the growth of the game itself in Mexico?

Mullin: I would say the development in the Mexican leagues have been great. Just to have a high competition of football outside of the U.S. is great. I know there is the CFL and the European League of Football, but Mexico definitely has some talent and there is a lot of it. Maybe if there was a merger between the FAM [other league in Mexico] and the LFA, that would be cool. The NFL has 32 teams, so if they combine, they could make a second NFL or a second CFL. There is no shortage of something bigger to come from this.

A recent graduate of Hofstra University in New York. He is currently a sports freelance journalist and podcaster