Punters with personality always develop a cult following — hell, look at Pat McAfee. There’s something inherently funny about punting with swagger, and it causes these players to get elevated to folk heroes. Lou Hedley, the Saints 30-year-old punter from Australia, took his craft from the deserts of Western Australia, to a tattoo shop in Indonesia, a stop in Miami, and now to the NFL.
Yeah, people are going to fall in love with this guy.
Hedley was named to the Saints 53 on Tuesday, cementing his place on an NFL roster. Undrafted in 2023, Hedley decided to sign with New Orleans and try to earn a roster spot, rather than head to the CFL where he was drafted. He beat out starter Blake Gillikin with a preseason full of booming punts and astounding directional punting. It’s a hell of a change in fortunes for a dude who erecting scaffolding in the desert not that long ago.
Aussie Rules roots
Hedley’s kicking chops come from Australian Rules Football (AFL), like many Aussie punters before him. The sport has become a breeding ground for college punters, with 53 of 130 FBS teams boasting a punter from Down Under in 2021.
Hedley initially had aspirations of playing the sport at home, but realized in high school that he didn’t have the chops to make it as a pro. It’s a sport that requires speed, athleticism, and astounding conditioning on top of being able to kick — and he lacked some of the qualities needed to break through.
At a crossroads, Hedley dropped out of high school and decided to start earning money. He explained in a 2019 profile by Bleacher Report that he spent seven years working as a laborer who erected scaffolding at mines, power plants — anywhere that needed scaffolding, really.
“I pretty much lived in a harness way off the ground for seven years of my life,” Hedley says. “It was all good fun, and it allowed me to stay fit while I worked. Plus, it was great money and I didn’t have time to spend any of it.”
With job paying for his lodging, a stipend handling his food, and money amassing in his bank account, Hedley carved out a nice life for a young kid. It was also during this time that he discovered his love for tattoos.
The coastal province of Bali, Indonesia has long been a tourist hotspot for Australian travelers. In fact, it’s tough to find a young adult who hasn’t been to Bali to party, at least once.
It’s here that Hedley decided to make his new home. With his collection of body art growing, he took his scaffold money and became a co-owner of Rosemarrie Tattoo. This allowed him to stay in Bali, surf, and continue to get more tattoos. Hedley never viewed it as a moneymaking venture, but rather an opportunity to keep him in the life he grew to love.
Punting on it all
The lingering dream of playing professional sports never left Hedley. It was the one itch he couldn’t scratch, and despite having a nice life in Bali, he decided to make one last run at a sporting career.
Hedley enrolled in ProKick, the pipeline that scouts Australian kickers and gets them placed in college programs. He immediately turned heads, and it wasn’t long before Hedley enrolled in the City College of San Francisco in 2017, a JUCO, but it would be a brief stop before taking a much bigger jump.
Hedley had eye-popping punting tape, and it wasn’t long before Power 5 schools were calling. Finally he settled on Miami, where the 25-year-old began his journey. It was a breakout college career, where Hedley averaged 45.2 yards per punt, consistently booming the ball downfield with placement and power.
Now he’s in the NFL
It’s been an incredible journey for the 30-year-old dad. Oh, I forgot to mention that? Yeah, he has a 5-year-old son named Loki, which helped spark his whole journey back to professional sports.
In a very reductive way you can say that Lou Hedley is: A 30-year-old punting tattooed dad who worked as a laborer before becoming a surfing tattoo shop owner. None of this is inaccurate. Now he’s in the NFL. New Orleans will fall in love, then the rest of the country will follow.
The legend of Lou Hedley is only just beginning.