Professional footballers have been spotted at wrestling events, and it’s therefore not surprising that some of them have tried to become wrestlers after retirement.
Footballers deal with a very risky sport that requires great charisma, finesse, and strength. Sometimes the beautiful game of sport causes injuries to players—the same risk wrestlers face.
With that in mind, here are five former professional football players who have all achieved success in professional wrestling.
5. Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson
The Rock’s pro football career was incredibly unsuccessful. He received only a few checks before the CFL let him loose, and no NFL teams were interested in signing him.
Dwayne Johnson found his niche and eventually fought his way up from a young bloke who didn’t earn much respect during his early fights to becoming a successful wrestler.
By the time he was deciding to take some time away from wrestling to pursue his career as a movie star, Dwayne was the face of the WWE. All this happened when The Rock started taking the family business more seriously—both his grandfather and father were pro wrestlers.
Biggest professional football achievements: After signing with the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, he played defensive tackle at the University of Miami, and only lasted two months with the team.
Biggest victories in professional wrestling: The Rock became one of the most famous wrestlers in the sport’s long history by winning the WWE Tag Team Championship 5 times and the WWE Championship 8 times.
The primary reason for his career change: After deciding to wrestle professionally, like so many other members of his illustrious family, he received training from his father Rocky Johnson, a former pro wrestler in his own right.
Part XFL Owner
You probably know this. But Dwane Johnson never gave up on football. He may not have qualified for the NFL, but he ended up buying the XFL—the NFLs’ biggest competitor in the US.
If you love football, you can watch both the NFL and the XFL. You can also bet on both leagues in states where betting is legal. That said, take time to learn how to bet correctly. Learn how to read odds and how to use NFL scores to help you predict future football games.
4. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
For it not for injuries, Jim Duggan would probably have become an NFL legend. The Hacksaw was a prolific footballer in college. He played for the Southern Methodist University and was eventually signed by the Atlanta Falcons.
Unfortunately, injuries shortened his career and he ended up opting to become a wrestler. During his time with WCW, Duggan did win the WCW World Television Championship and the WCW U.S. Heavyweight Championship. However, he never took home a WWE championship. The WWE nevertheless inducted him into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2011.
A big part of that was due to Duggan’s transformation into one of the most adored wrestlers ever. His 2×4 is one of the most iconic props in WWE’s history, and many other professional wrestlers have attempted to copy his patriotic act throughout the years.
Biggest professional football achievements: Signed with the Falcons, Duggan played as a linebacker for SMU. He was released from the team due to knee injuries
Biggest victories in professional wrestling: During his time in the WWE his “U-S-A!” chant and 2×4 helped him become a crowd favorite.
The drive behind his career change’s: During a recruiting visit to SMU, he met Fritz Von Erich, who subsequently persuaded Duggan to try his hand at professional wrestling.
3. Verne Gagne
Gagne was among the highest-paid pro wrestlers in the world in the 1950s. He reportedly earned more than $100,000 annually to wrestle. But what made him such a significant figure in wrestling were his achievements outside the arena.
The American Wrestling Association contributed to the regional growth of pro wrestling and served as Vince McMahon’s inspiration for expanding WWE to a national audience. Unfortunately, wrestling fans don’t always give Gagne the respect he merits.
He is, however, one of the few wrestlers in the annals of professional wrestling to be inducted into practically all the major halls of fame, including the WCW Hall of Fame, the WWE Hall of Fame, and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Biggest professional football achievements: He was chosen by the Bears in the 1947 NFL Draft, but ended up playing defensive end for the Packers after Chicago forbade him from combining football and wrestling,
Biggest victories in professional wrestling: created the American Wrestling Association and took home several heavyweight titles.
The turning point in his career was when he realized that wrestling paid better than football.
2. Lawrence “Lex Luger” Pfohl
It’s lowkey amazing that Lex Luger has had success in his career despite not securing as many titles as some of his peers. Luger has had career feuds with everyone, including Hulk Hogan and Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Yokozuna.
However, most of his victories were before he began to make significant movements with the WWE in the 1990s. He was an important part of some of the most important WWE and WCW storylines in the 1990s, and he still works behind the scenes for the WWE today.
Biggest professional football achievements: Played for the NFL’s Packers and CFL’s Montreal Alouettes before donning the USFL’s Memphis Showboats, Tampa Bay Bandits, and Jacksonville Bulls jerseys.
His biggest achievements in professional wrestling include winning a WCW World Heavyweight Championship, 5 National Wrestling Alliance U.S. Heavyweight Championships, and taking part in numerous important WCW and WWE storylines.
His chance to train with Hulk Hogan’s coach Hiro Matsuda in the middle of the 1980s came about because of former professional wrestler Bob Roop, who noticed him and was pleased by his body.
1. William “Dick the Bruiser” Afflis
Dick the Brusier was a visionary. However, he had to compromise for provincial stardom because he only began wrestling in the 1950s. He would probably be one of the biggest stars in WWE if he started his wrestling career today.
He began wrestling in Detroit and eventually made it to other cities across the nation, including Chicago, Omaha, Nebraska, and even Hawaii. He was not a big-time celebrity, but he did become well-known in practically every city he ever competed in.
Biggest professional football achievements: Played offensive tackle for the Packers for a number of seasons.
Biggest victories in professional wrestling: Fought for numerous organizations including Japan Wrestling Association, the American Wrestling Alliance, and World Wrestling Association. Won several NWA Heavyweight Championships.
The turning point in his career came when, in Detroit in the late 1950s, he began regularly defeating up-and-coming wrestlers and had practically all his matches televised.