<
>

Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson has the Hall of Fame and UFOs on his mind

play
Michael Dickson: 'I still don't know how they built the pyramids' (1:11)

Seattle Seahawks punter discusses his passion for exploring the rise and fall of some of history's greatest civilisations. (1:11)

Just who is Michael Dickson?

A smirk stretched broadly across his face. There was a pause, before a beaming smile shone through.

Seattle's punting sensation Michael Dickson was thinking quickly -- as he's often prone to do -- before revealing what we all knew long before: "You can go on forever, but my job is the punter for the Seahawks. [I] live in the U.S. but still feel pretty Australian. Kick footballs for a living, [it's] the best job in the world in my opinion."

There's an element of minimisation in Dickson's answer - typical of those from his homeland, often whom are shackled by humility. He is far more than just one of the NFL's 32 punters. Though it is telling the one-time All-Pro, when questioned as to his identity, led with his profession. This isn't a case of Dickson's identity being solely embedded in his career, but it does show its unmistakable importance to him.

Why is he one of the first inside Seattle's Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC)? Why is he one of the last to leave? What drives him to fight through when waves of negativity crash on his shore?

Mindfulness certainly contributes. Dickson journals daily and undertakes various breathing techniques, alongside a deep-dive into UFOs, The Great Pyramids, and mushrooms - though that's a story for later. His why, as is often with most, fuels him to constantly better his skill set. Listening to him, it seems as if there is a never-ending reserve of wood to throw on his fire. His flame won't be going out anytime soon.

"I have a lot of reasons but you know, it's more just about myself - the feeling that you get from competing," Dickson tells ESPN.

"Basically, I just love competing. I used to think it was family and stuff, but then when you start tying too many things to it, you start adding all these extra pressures. I just really enjoy it, sometimes I have a why but I just enjoy it. I don't really need to look to something that motivates me, I'm just motivated.

"I'm super competitive, not just with other punters in the league but with myself. I'll set these little goals each year and I'll set my long-term goal. You know, I want to be the greatest I can be and want to be one of the best in the league ever."

Football immortality truly is Dickson's goal. There was a sense of destiny, a sense of speaking it into existence as he spoke from Seahawks HQ prior to the Week 10 loss vs. Arizona. There was no hesitation as he laid out his desire to have his own bust in Canton. When pressed, a flash of typical Australian modesty reared its head once more: "I think that's every player's dream. I would love that."

The cold, harsh reality is most players can't begin to fantasize about something so beyond their reach. Dickson isn't most punters, both on and off the gridiron field. For a player, who in 2018 became the first rookie punter since 1985 to be voted to the Pro Bowl -- and this year went viral for an incredible double-punt against the Los Angeles Rams -- Dickson leads a quiet life.

Trawl through his social media and all you'll see is football. There's rarely anything more on offer to the public and it's the way Dickson likes it. His private life will remain that way, though he does indulge in some of life's more common pleasures away from social media.

Long walks and drives are enjoyable, so too listening to R&B music and observing the latest fashion trends - evidenced in his stylish pregame outfits.

Dickson is never far away from sport, punishing the odd soccer ball and even partaking in Australia's favourite summer pastime from 7,000 miles away. This offseason, Dickson spent many a day with his cousin -- and current University of Texas punter -- Ryan Bujcevski. The pair often batted and bowled in front of what were almost certainly confused onlookers.

Unfortunately, they weren't playing in front of family or friends - a result of the draconian lockdown rules imposed Australia-wide, including Dickson's home state of New South Wales.

A thoughtful, relaxed Dickson turned exasperated and derisive once the topic of his absence from Oz arose. There was bewilderment in his tone and frustration on his face.

"As much as I hate to say it, it was kind of embarrassing," Dickson said of watching Australia from afar. "It was embarrassing seeing how it was handled. I'm glad things are getting back in order now but I mean, it's a time where we haven't been through it before ... I could go on forever, I miss being home.

"I didn't really like the way it was handled and I didn't really like the arrogance of some of the politicians about it. It is what it is. Hopefully the public and the politicians learn from this and really take some steps forward in the future to make sure that this sort of thing doesn't really happen again, because I think it was ridiculous."

By the time Dickson makes it back to Australia in January or February, depending on when the Seahawks' campaign ends, he will have been away for two whole years.

It's two years too long for a man who loves his family and his country. Seattle's No. 4 usually returns to Sydney twice a year, and admits life has been tougher without home comforts.

"[I] would've liked to have come home earlier in the year but just staying in a hotel room where you're not guaranteed a window -- for two weeks' time -- is just crazy," he said. "I know it wouldn't have been good for my mental health, I don't think it's good for anyone's mental health doing that. So, just kind of frustrated and disappointed in the whole way that, that was handled."

While Dickson hasn't been able to travel across the Pacific, he has undertaken travel of another kind; transporting himself back in time each morning.

"I get into a lot of ancient civilizations that kind of fell, and definitely Egypt fascinates me," he said. "I still don't know how they built the pyramids. It just blows me away. I mean, I'll watch as many videos as there are on YouTube - I'm pretty sure I've watched them all now.

"This morning, I watched some stuff on Vikings and how they would take mushrooms before they would go into war and be Berserkers and stuff. I share with our long snapper (Tyler Ott) quite a bit. I mean the theory's crazy; you've got to look up Graham Hancock's theory on it, last year when all the UFO stuff was coming out - I don't know if it's true but it's just fun to watch.

"I probably sound like a crazy man now but I just enjoy watching any sort of out-there stuff, just for entertainment. I don't really believe any of it, it's just kind of fun to watch."

The Seattle Seahawks may well be trending downward with their 3-7 record, but Dickson continues his ascension to the very top of his profession.

If his drive and mental fortitude are any indication, Dickson could rise higher than the pyramids which so intrigue him. His resting place, though, could very well be Canton rather than Cairo.