From Shanghai to the NFL: Rams rookie eager to make the grade


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Nov 20, 2021; Morgantown, West Virginia, USA; Texas Longhorns place kicker Cameron Dicker (17) punts the ball during the first quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

With Mark and Haig recording their last face-to-face show before some summer travel (0:36), news is coming through that the World University Games in Chengdu will be postponed for a second time (2:03) [UPDATE: Mark’s sources were right, as both those Games and the Asian Games in Hangzhou have now both been postponed]. The decision was mostly because of COVID — what isn’t these days? — but Russia was stripped of its 2023 hosting rights, so there’s a gap on the calendar (3:43). Meanwhile, far fewer weightlifters will perform at the 2024 Paris Olympics, meaning a big hit to China’s gold medal hopes (6:00). Plus, Eileen Gu heads back to the U.S. after three months in China, with the most polarizing athlete in the U.S.-China sphere prompting yet more praise and criticism in equal measures (8:45).

Our guest on the show spent the first decade of his life in Shanghai; this week, Cameron Dicker signed with the world champions LA Rams in the NFL. Dicker the Kicker, as he’s known, joins us from Dallas, where he’s going through some offseason training reps (14:26). Dicker explains how his family ended up in China (14:53), shares some stories from his Chinese experience (15:25), and recalls some not-so-fond memories playing football in China (15:55).

After moving to the U.S. for the first time, age 11, did he feel like he was starting too late or he was still young enough to adapt (17:17)? Dicker explains how he transformed from being a soccer player to a kicker and punter for the University of Texas (18:31), but at what point did he first realize he had a shot at making an NFL roster (22:00)? Perhaps surprisingly, his China experience came up repeatedly during his NFL draft interviews (22:46), and Dicker explains how his time abroad has helped him become a better athlete (24:13).

Kickers don’t often get drafted, but the newly-signed Dicker says he’s using that snub as motivation for the future (25:50). He explains how he’s getting ready for his first training camp with the Rams (26:40), lays out his expectations for his rookie year (28:50), reveals whether he thinks he has a better shot in the league as a kicker or as a punter (29:38), and learns for the first time that the Rams have been designated as “China’s team”, prompting dreams of a return trip to Shanghai one day (30:24).