from the gridiron to the squared circle

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Famous pro wrestlers who began their career in football.

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  • 1. From theGridironTo the SquaredCircleFootball Players who becamePro Wrestlers

2. A scholarship athlete from the University of Georgia, heplayed for the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falconsbefore injuries put him on the sidelines. His last team, theCarolina Panthers, never played him. 3. Bill Goldberg 4. A standout scholarship for Penn State, Lawrence Phohlwould later transfer to Miami, where he played defense forthe Hurricanes. He played in CFLs Grey Bowl withMontreal before moving to Green Bay, where he neverplayed another game. 5. The Total Package, LexLuger 6. He earned a basketball scholarship to Grambling before trading hisConverse for cleats with the San Diego Chargers. He helped win fourAFL championships before moving to the Kansas City Chiefs andHouston Oilers. He took up pro wrestling during his off-season,moving to full-time in 1969.At 69 and 315 pounds, he was one of thelargest NFL stars of all time. 7. The Big Cat Ernie LaddHe was inducted into the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame (1981), the Grambling StateUniversity Hall Of Fame (1989) and the WWE Hall of Fame (1995). 8. Excelling in both wrestling and football, he was an All-American with the Oklahoma Sooners and lost in the finalsof the NCAA wrestling championship to BruceBaumgartner. He got his famous nickname from a goaliesmask he used to wear. 9. Dr. Death Steve Williams 10. A two-time Second String All-American, he joined theCincinnati Bengals as a free agent before moving to theBuffalo Bills. His roommate at the University of Miami(OH) was future NFL coach John Harbaugh. 11. The Loose Cannon BrianPillman 12. Recruited by Ohio State, he found his niche instead atSouthern Methodist (SMU) in Dallas where he was teamcaptain. He spent some time with the Atlanta Falcons untilsidelined with injuries. 13. Hacksaw Jim Duggan 14. It seems this guy could do anythingwon the NCAAheavyweight wrestling championship at the University ofMinnesota, WWE champion, UFC championonly in the NFL,and seemingly only because of a car accidentdid his time withthe Minnesota Vikings wash out. 15. Brock Lesnar 16. A member of the University of Miamis 1991 NCAAChampion team, he was sidelined with injuries andreplaced with future NFL great Warren Sapp. Fortunately,both parents were already in the pro wrestling business. 17. Dwayne The RockJohnson 18. He played for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, thenbegan his AFL career with the Houston Oilers and DenverBroncos. After stints with the NFLs New York Jets andMiami Dolphins, he went to wrestling full-time. 19. Chief Wahoo McDaniel 20. A consensus All-American for two years in a row, his numberwith Florida State was retired in 1988. He spent only one yearwith the NFLs Cleveland Browns. In 1992 he became the firstrecognized black heavyweight champion of the NWA (WCW). 21. Ron Simmons 22. An All-American at the University of Colorado, LeonWhite played for two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams.In his second pro year, he was on the squad whicheventually lost Super Bowl XIV to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 23. Vader 24. Prior to his wrestling career, he made his mark at AbileneChristian before moving to the L.A. Raiders, where he wascut before the season started. He spent the 1991 seasonwith the WLAFs San Antonio Riders. 25. John Bradshaw Layfield 26. Discovered by University of Minnesota football coach ClarenceSpears, he became a hallmark among Minnesota athletes andlater led the Chicago Bears to seven regional titles and two NFLChampionships. He is the only person in both the Football Hallof Fame and the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. 27. Bronislau BronkoNagurski 28. (And one from the Diamond)He was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals straight out ofhigh school in Downers Grove, IL, playing mostly outfield.His all-time stats in the minors (with the Cardinals, Redsand White Sox) was a batting average of .254, with 16 homeruns and 66 RBIs. 29. Randy Macho ManSavage