Defensive End #23 Byron Beatty Jr.
Has taken the league by storm with his hard hits and aggressiveness. An outside linebacker at Colorado University, he was a two-time All Big 12 selection. He joined the Seagulls in 2012 and earned All X-League honors in 2013. In 2015, he served as captain of the victorious United States team at the World Championship. He is the nephew of former NFL player Chris Naeole. (27, 189cm, 109kg)
Coming to Japan
What was your main reason for coming to Japan? What did you want to get out of it?
I had never left the country. Growing up in Hawaii, Japan has a lot of influence on the current Hawaiian lifestyle. I grew up eating a lot of Japanese food and interacting with a lot of Japanese people, because they were always coming to Hawaii. It was always a country that I wanted to visit, but never had the opportunity.
I saw it as an opportunity to travel the world, get new experiences, still play football.
What was your impression of Japanese football?
Before I even first saw it, I just had the typical idea---I had never come across a big Japanese person, unless they did sumo. So my idea was that there were a lot of small, speedy guys. Then I came out and saw my first game and I was like, 'Wow, there are some big guys.' They play in a way, they love the game. And it's something interesting, because I did not know that outside of Canada and a little bit in Europe, that there was even football.
How has it progressed since you arrived?
I think it's progressed a lot in the four years that I've been here. The gap has kind of closed now. We were so dominant. My rookie year, it was almost like a run-through. I don't really remember, other than the JXB (Japan X Bowl) that year, a team that kind of gave us any trouble. Now, we haven't really won. Fujitsu's won one time, Panasonic won this year. So, the level is rising, in a good way.
Playing for the Seagulls
What most appeals to you about the Seagulls as a team?
The Japanese do a fairly good job of organizing the game here. It's definitely different, scale-wise. I feel like a family. When I first got here, guys were very welcoming, and they were very quick to want to be friends, and want to get to know me. I'm a friendly person, and I was the same way, I wanted to get to know these guys, too. They were very welcoming. They wanted to learn from me. Guys watched me play and asked me, How do I do this? and How do I do that? The guys are very much like a family and wanting to continue to better themselves, too. Very impressed by this team.
In what ways is it different from an American team?
The biggest thing for me I guess is the culture of the team. You don't really get a lot of guys having the killer instinct. The game is not as violent. My idea of the game is that this sport is violent; they kind of think of it as physical. I think my level of physical and their level of physical are two different ideas. I think that's the biggest difference between playing in America and playing here.
What is your overall impression of the Seagulls as an organization?
Everybody is family, from the top to the bottom. I joke around with everybody. I won't say I've never seen that (before), but guys are very open and able to joke around and stuff like that. Like a rookie can come in and joke around with the head coach, and joke around with the assistant coaches.
They did an awesome job (helping me get settled). Having KJ(Kevin Jackson) here was a big help, and they knew that. But the guys are very, when I first got here, and my Japanese before I was able to study and learn, they were very helpful. Trying to communicate with me, in whatever way we figured it out.
Living in Japan
What is it like living in Japan?
Growing up in Hawaii, it's a lot different. I'm from the country, I literally have cattle in the back of my house. I have the beach right in my front yard. So living here, just outside of Tokyo, is somewhat of a culture shock in the sense of living in the city now. It's something I've had to adjust to a little bit. And even Boulder (Colo.) was not that big of a town.
What do you like to do?
I like to explore. New places, I'm always looking for somewhere in Japan I haven't been, a restaurant I haven't tried. While I'm here, I go around and explore when I can.
What is it like balancing work and football?
That's something that I've had to adjust to. Like going to high school, it was school and football, and college it's the same thing. Balancing work, it's kind of weird, having work and then thinking, today's a weekday, I don't have practice. You have to be a little more disciplined. In college, you know you're going to have practice, you know you're going to work out and things like that. Here, you have to disciplined and get yourself to the gym and go run and go lift. If not, you can't perform.
Advice to prospective players
You have to be open to a different culture. You have to realize that you're not in America no more. There's something that you're going to have to adjust to and you have to be open to that. You're traveling the world and I think that's one thing, you're not going to be in America, you have to be willing to give and take. There's a lot of things that you have in America that you're not going to have here. There's a lot of customs that we have in America that you can't do here, there's a lot of customs that you're going to have to learn here. If I was to give advice it's just to be open. It's a great opportunity. It's an interesting culture, and to learn from them, and for them, it's also a teaching opportunity. You get to play football, and you get to make friends from all over the world.