Former NFL Player Blake Proehl Gets a Ticket to Hollywood on 'American Idol' — Why Did He Quit Football?

Blake Proehl went from making to touchdowns on the field to a touchdown during his 'American Idol' audition.

Kelly Corbett - Author

Feb. 19 2024, Published 12:54 p.m. ET

Blake Proehl
Source: Disney/Eric McCandless

Among the tens of thousands who audition for American Idol each season, a few always stand out. Some are recognized for their high-energy, unconventional performances, while others captivate with their powerful vocals and/or heartwarming stories that leave the judges and viewers floored.

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During the Season 22 premiere, we met Blake Proehl from Charlotte, N.C., who falls firmly into the latter category. While Blake is new to singing, he's not new to having an audience. Blake is actually a former NFL player. Below, we discuss why he transitioned to music.

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Why did former NFL player Blake Proehl stop playing football?

Before pursuing singing, Blake played for the Minnesota Vikings as a wide receiver. He joined the team in 2021 as an undrafted free agent after a solid college career at East Carolina University. However, Blake's time with the Vikings was tragically cut short after he suffered a debilitating knee injury that cost him his career.

After his injury, Blake was told it would be "a success story" if he could ever even run again. Unsure of what to do, he turned to music.

"I wasn't able to walk for so long. That's when music kind of came in and saved me," he said during his audition.

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Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Blake Proehl (13) warms up before a pre-season NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals on August 26, 2023,
Source: Getty Images

Former Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Blake Proehl (13) warming up before a pre-season NFL game between the Vikings and Arizona Cardinals in August 2023.

But it was one person, who really pushed him to pursue music, his grandma or "Nana" as he calls her. In December 2021, Blake filmed a video of him performing for Nana for the first time. The video went viral on TikTok, amassing over twenty-eight million views.

Blake comes from a football family. His father Ricky Proehl played in the league for 17 years, while his brother Austin played for the New York Giants, but was released on August 16, 2022.

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Blake Proehl's audition on 'American Idol' blew the judges away.

During Blake's audition, the judges invited Nana in as well, and it was just as heartwarming as you would have imagined. Blake performed "In Case You Didn't Know" by Brett Young.

Throughout the performance, judge Katy Perry kept looking at her arm, pointing out the goosebumps that Blake's vocals were giving her.

"If you allow us to be your coaches, you're gonna be top 10," she told Blake during the feedback portion. Moments later Blake was awarded his Golden Ticket to Hollywood.

So, how far will Blake get on Idol? We'll just have to tune in to watch.

Watch American Idol on Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

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