'Young Rock'
Source: NBC

Here's the Real Reason Dwayne Johnson Abandoned His Dreams of Becoming a Professional Football Player

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Mar. 23 2021, Updated 6:16 p.m. ET

Over the years, Dwayne Johnson has become one of the highest-grossing actors in the world, but more than two decades ago, The Rock had dreams of becoming a professional football player. Recent episodes of Young Rock give us a glimpse into Dwayne Johnson’s college years and fans are wondering whether Dwayne really played professional football.

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dwayne johnson football
Source: NBC

Before becoming a professional wrestler, Dwayne Johnson pursued a career in football.

From 1991 to 1994, Dwayne played as a defensive tackle for the University of Miami alongside Warren Sapp, who Dwayne says is responsible for derailing his dreams of going to the NFL. Initially joining the Miami Hurricanes as a tight-end, Warren later proved to be a bigger competition than Dwayne had previously anticipated. 

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In an ESPN roundtable with his former teammate, Dwayne explained, “Like true defensive linemen would do, full of ego, especially down at Miami because we all talked trash, I said 'Well, you ain’t taking my spot.' Then about six months later, he took my spot.”

dwayne johnson football
Source: NBC
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Dwayne continued, “I gotta tell you this: People are always asking me if I regret not making it to the NFL because of my injuries at Miami. Let me be clear: It had nothing to do with my injuries. I didn’t make it to the NFL because of one man. That’s Warren Sapp. Hands down.”

He continued, “There’s a reason why I’m here right now, and it’s because of the grace of God, because you’re the best at what you do. And because you came in and said, ‘You go sit on the sidelines real quick, and I’m going out there to kick some ass.’”

Although Dwayne went on to become a linebacker for the Calgary Stampeders, he was cut from the team only two months into the season, leading him to jumpstart his very successful career as a professional wrestler. 

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dwayne johnson football
Source: NBC

Despite his inability to fulfill his hopes of becoming a professional football player, The Rock says he’ll never forget his time at the University of Miami, where he was introduced to his former rival Warren Sapp, and Coach Ed Orgeron, a pivotal character in Dwayne’s history. 

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Coach O makes an appearance on recent episodes on ‘Young Rock.’

Decades before Ed Orgeron became the head coach at LSU, he worked under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson as the defensive line coach for the University of Miami, where he met a young Dwayne Johnson. 

In the past, Ed, who is played by Emmett Skilton on Young Rock, has spoken highly of Dwayne, agreeing that if Warren Sapp hadn’t come along, the future pro wrestler would have had a very successful career in football. 

dwayne johnson football
Source: NBC

Coach O previously said, "He was a highly recruited kid. We were excited to have him, he came to us ahead of his time. He was developed and was extremely quick. He was a hard worker and a humble young man.”

After the real Coach O’s recent appearance on Young Rock, it’s clear that these two still keep in touch. 

You can watch new episodes of Young Rock at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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