It should come as a surprise to no one that many professional wrestlers have also played football at the college and professional levels. I mean, they all have the size and strength to battle in the trenches with the best of them.
There are different types of wrestlers who played football professionally. There are those who had made an attempt at football but the stint didn't last very long at all. Others left wrestling to attempt to play football (well, only one of those made this list). Then there are the ones who hit the mat in the offseason (as ridiculous as that sounds). Lastly, there are the wrestlers who played professionally, but only in the CFL (only one of those is on this list simply because of how big he has become in the wrestling world). Each one of those types has found their way onto this list.
There are even a few wrestlers who achieved some moderate, and even great success, with one player on this list making it into the Hall of Fame (see if you can guess! No peaking).
Either way, it's rather interesting to find out which faces in ring once strapped on a football helmet. Who knows, your favorite could be on this list
So, what are you waiting for! Find out who played for which team, for how long. Find out if the career was short lived or not. For many of you this will be a nice cross between two of your favorite sports.
So sit back, relax, throw on your helmet and singlet, and see which wrestlers also hit the gridiron and played professional football.
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15 Kevin Greene
Kevin Greene is known way more for his time spent on the gridiron than his time mixing it up in the square.
Greene was selected to the Pro Bowl five times and was named an All-Pro three times over the course of his 14 year career that saw him play linebacker for the Rams, Steelers, Packers, and 49ers.
His wrestling career was a brief one in which he competed for WCW doubles and singles match.
14 Tito Santana
A 1980s and early '90s wresting Intercontinental and Tag Team star, Tito Santana was once an NFL player. Well, very briefly.
Merced Solis (real name) played tight end at West Texas State and was signed but the Kansas City Chiefs but didn't make it past cuts (if you've watched hard knocks, you know it's not easy). Solis' career was extended by the CFL where he played a season for the BC Lions. He is now a semi-retired wrestler.
13 Marcus Cor Von
Also known as "The Alpha Male" in the wrestling world, Monty Brown (Marcus Cor Von) was an NFL linebacker for the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. He played in a Super Bowl with the Bills, but we all know that didn't end in victory.
Marcus Cor Von never won any major titles but did have his moment of glory in TNA when he took down Kevin Nash and "Diamond" Dallas. Unfortunately for Cor Von, his WWE career was anything but grand.
12 Bronko Nagurski
This is quite the throwback.
Nagurski was a stud fullback for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s, helping them to a pair of National Championships. He took that intimidation into the ring where he would wrestle for the legendary NWA promotion (National Wrestling Alliance).
While working for the NWA, Bronko Nagurski would defeat the great Lou Thesz--a wrestling pioneer- for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
11 Lex Luger
Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke donned the number 66. Before him? Lex Luger.
Luger was a member of the Packers for the 1982 season on injured reserved, but was cut prior to the start of the 1983 season which sent him to the CFL and ultimately to the professional wrestling industry. The sport is lucky football didn't workout because Luger has become such a big part of the wrestling community.
10 Ron Simmons
Most football players turned wrestlers are picked up as undrafted free agents. Ron Simmons was actually drafted in the sixth round in 1981 by the Cleveland Browns, but his career in the NFL ended after just two seasons.
He went and played for the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits for three seasons before heading over to wrestling.
Simmons would then move on to professional wrestling and make history by becoming the first-ever African-American World Heavyweight Champion.
Leon White's (known in the wrestling world as Big Van Vader) football career looked promising.
He was a highly recruited center out of high school and ended up playing at the University of Colorado before being selected in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Rams. He missed the entire first season, played in a Super Bowl in his second, but eventually had to leave the game due to a ruptured patella.
The ruptured patella didn't stop him hitting the mat and doing the Moonsault.
8 Ahmed Johnson
Anthony Norris (Ahmed Johnson) was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboy for two seasons in the early '90s before moving onto to professional wrestling.
He made waves in wrestling by becoming the first African-American to win a singles championship in WWE back in 1996.
While Johnson's win is historic, the football player turned wrestler is often forgotten by many WWE fans.
7 Brock Lesnar
Unlike most wrestlers, Brock Lesnar actually left the ring to pursue a career in the NFL.
After experiencing a ton of success, including three WWE Championships (he became the youngest ever to win a title at age 25) and a King of the Ring and Royal Rumble win, Lesnar did the unthinkable. He attempted to play in the NFL.
He hadn't even played football at the college level, but he definitely had the body strength.
His NFL career was short lived, as he was cut by the Minnesota Vikings prior to the 2004-05 season.
6 Roman Reigns
Before Roman Reigns stepped into the ring and competed for WWE spotlight, he put his hand in the ground to stop the run and attack the quarterback.
Reigns (realm name: Leati Anoa'), played college football for Georgia Tech before experiencing a pair of short stints in the NFL playing defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He followed up his brief time in the NFL with a full season playing for the Edmonton Eskimos in the CFL in 2008.
5 Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Dwayne Johnson's professional football career was short lived, and it wasn't even in the NFL. He only makes this list because of the weight his name carries.
The Rock was recruited by several Division I schools before deciding on the University of Miami. He played in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders as a backup linebacker but was cut early on in the season and then went straight to wrestling.
Johnson's football career could have been a lot better if not for an injury suffered in college.
4 Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd
The Big Cat was selected in the 1961 AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and was said to be the strongest man to play pro football during that time.
He competed in four AFL titles games, winning one. So yeah, he was another one of those players that had a pretty serious football career before heading to the ring as a full-time performer.
Ernie "Big Cat" Ladd is a distinguished member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
3 Darren "Puke/Droz" Drozdov
Darren Drozdov played a few seasons on the defensive line for the New York Jets and the Denver Broncos, but he is isn't known most for his performance on the field.
During a Monday Night Football game in 1993, Darren earned the nickname puke when he vomited on the football right before the center snapped the ball. Apparently it wasn't the first or last time he vomited on the field either.
After he left the league, he took his talents to the wrestling ring and would eventually become known as "Puke" in WWE. Unfortunately, Drozdov is now a quadriplegic after suffering a neck injury
2 Leo "The Lion" Nomellini
Leo Nomellini had a illustrious football career that saw him inducted into the Hall of Fame after playing 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, who selected Nomellini with the first ever NFL Draft pick in 1950.
Unlike most wrestlers, Leo didn't wait till his football career was over (it was much longer than most) to compete in the square. The Lion wrestled in the offseason for the NWA, primarily in tag team matches where he had a lot of success.
1 Bill Goldberg
Take one look at Bill Goldberg and you won't be the least bit surprised that he was once an NFL player, and was there for longer than most.
Goldberg played for the Rams in 1990, followed by a stint in the CFL with the Sacremento Gold Miners. He returned back to play for the Atlanta Falcons from 1992 to 1994 and was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the Expansion Draft of 1995.
Injuries ultimately caught up to Goldberg and he was unable to find a home after suffering too many. Goldberg would move on to become one of the biggest attractions in WCW history.
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