Jordan Harold isn’t above using gimmicks to get a job.
Four years ago he gave up a scholarship at Division II football power Northwest Missouri State for a chance to walk on at Mizzou, showing up at the Tigers’ team facility wearing an oversized pair of Timberland boots. Anything to add an inch or two to his hardly imposing 6-2 frame.
Harold was too short to play defensive end in the Southeastern Conference, but that didn’t keep him from landing a spot on the roster in 2015. In 2016 he earned a scholarship and a starting job. In 2017, he was voted a team captain. It still goes down as one of Mizzou’s greatest out-of-nowhere success stories. The kid from Ferguson who barely sniffed any Division I attention out of McCluer North High School finished his Mizzou career as a two-year starter. In his final college game, he was the Tigers’ most productive player on the field in the 2017 Texas Bowl, finishing with seven tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, all career-high totals.
Two years later, Harold’s hunger still burns.
Undrafted in 2018, Harold played football overseas last fall for Athletes in Action, representing the United States in the IFAF World Championship in China. This past spring he played professionally in Mexico.
He and his mother have since moved from St. Louis to Charlotte, N.C., where his quest to make an NFL roster took an unconventional path.
On Monday, Harold stood outside the Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium wearing his No. 55 black Mizzou jersey and held up a sign that read, “Will pass rush for hot wings.”
That’s right, hot wings.
The stunt was picked up by local media and soon went viral. From Sports Illustrated to USA Today, national outlets reported on the former Tigers’ bargain offer to play for the local team.
On Thursday, Harold talked to the Post-Dispatch about his recent brush with Internet fame.
Q: Before you went viral this week, how did you come up with the idea of standing outside the stadium holding up that sign?
A: I didn’t expect it to get the attention it did. I got back from Mexico, and I was like, OK, what’s next? My mom came up with the idea last year, but we didn’t know where the Panthers practiced. I didn’t want to just go to the stadium and not know if they were practicing there, but once I got confirmation that the stadium was also their practice facility I just went there with the feeling that, hey, I might as well. Why not? So I just did it.
Q: It looks like you initially got some local media attention in Charlotte. Then what happened?
A: It’s been all over the place. Sports Illustrated posted me. The Checkdown posted me. A lot of places have picked up on it. This Saturday I’m going to be on a morning show for “Fox and Friends.” It’s been pretty exciting, but it all started because a camera man from Fox 46 in Charlotte drove past and just saw me. I guess he called it in and then they told me some people were coming to do a story on me. I was like thank God at that point. It was exactly what I needed. Now it’s gone viral, so it’s been a blessing. I’m excited about what’s going to happen.
Q: Have you heard from the Panthers or any other teams?
A: I’m still waiting on that part. The Panthers told me their roster is full, but they told me they’ll definitely look at me in the future once people are coming in and out of camp and those sorts of things. I’m not sure what teams will do, but I’m pretty confident something will come through because of the acknowledgement I’ve been getting from people, around the world really. It’s really powerful what’s going on.
Q: You played in Mexico earlier this year. Where else have you played since your college career?
A: I played eight games in Mexico and then came home before the playoffs started. I played for Team USA in China (last year) through Athletes in Action and played against other countries, like China, Japan and Mexico. Some of the guys on the Mexico team ended up being on my team when I played in Mexico. Other than that I’ve been training this entire time and staying ready.
Q: What’s the level of competition like in that Mexican league?
A: It’s different. When I was in China we actually lost to Mexico and won the silver medal. Those guys definitely have talent. It’s not to the extent of the NFL, but they had some players that obviously stand out. Some of those guys were fast, some were really big. They definitely have some ballers down there, guys who could make some college teams or pro teams here if given a chance.
Q: You overcame so much at Mizzou to become a starter and a captain. Does that experience still inspire you to keep trying this path now?
A: Definitely. I’ve been living my testimony that you can do what you want as long as you put your mind to it. As long as you believe in yourself nothing else matters. As long as I follow that and live by that code, that personal mantra that’s taken me places, I can only imagine it’s going to continue.
Q: If you had to make a sales pitch to an NFL team on why they should sign you, what does that pitch sound like?
A: I’d be able to offer a leader, one. Someone who understands hard work, dedication, all those different things. When it comes to football, I’m not going to take it for granted. I’m someone who will push his teammates with that mindset because of things I’ve seen and things I’ve been through. I feel like a team has nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving me a shot. The real question from me is why not? That’s something I’ve been wondering for a while. Why not me?