Did dwayne johnson play football? Known for his larger-than-life personality in the wrestling ring and a star on the big screen, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had his hands in many things throughout his professional life, even trying his hand at football early in life. Let’s take a look back at Dwayne Johnson’s football career and see if The Rock ever made it to the NFL.
Where Did Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Play Football?
Johnson’s life as a kid has been well-documented to this point. The Rock is from Hawaii, where had no issue getting into scraps and was tested by his family and peers often due to his lineage.
When your father and grandfather are wrestlers, others are quick to test your skills. Because of the genes in his family, this also meant Johnson inherited the size most didn’t at that time. Johnson did not play football until he got to high school when he would attend Freedom High in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
He credits his desire to play due to a bathroom run-in with teacher/coach Jody Cwik. Johnson was an imposing figure, and it was easy to tell football would be a good idea for him. By the time he was a junior in high school, The Rock stood at 6’4″ and 230 pounds. Realizing it could be his way to higher education, Johnson took his opportunity seriously and attacked it with the same ferocity he has become known for in all his other endeavors.
Johnson received many scholarship offers including from Penn State, UCLA, Clemson, Florida State, and dozens of other top programs. Eventually, he decided on the University of Miami and accepted a full-ride scholarship to play at “The U.”
An Injury to Johnson’s Shoulder Changed His Future
If you know your college football history, you know how incredible the 1991 Miami Hurricanes team was. They are widely considered the greatest college team of all time. Despite being surrounded by blue-chip prospects who would go on to have great NFL careers, Johnson would be the only true freshman on the team.
Current LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who coached the defensive line at Miami from 1988-1992, said that he felt Johnson “had a chance to be an All-American” during his time in Miami.
Unfortunately, those dreams were sadly cut short. During the final round of two-a-days, Johnson would tear his shoulder. The Miami coaching staff decided to convert a relatively larger but nimble tight end to defensive end. His name? Warren Sapp. And as they like to say, the rest is history.
It was truly just bad timing for Johnson that he went to the same school as one of the greatest defensive linemen of all time. From that point on, Johnson was a substitute-level player for the Hurricanes moving forward and would never garner the same opportunity again during his time there.
Johnson played for Miami all four years (1991-1995), appearing in 39 games with one start. He recorded 77 tackles and 4.25 sacks.
Did Johnson Get Drafted in the NFL?
Any dreams or aspirations towards an NFL future for The Rock were dashed due to the presence of Sapp. Unable to see any considerable playing time, Johnson was left without a real chance to shine, and as a result, he went undrafted.
After graduating with a bachelor’s of general studies in criminology and physiology in 1995, he signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a linebacker.
Johnson was assigned to the practice roster but was cut two months into the season as he struggled with injuries once again. That was the closest Johnson ever got to playing in the NFL.
Shortly after that, Johnson realized he needed to make a change. And well, The Rock was born. It looks like he may have made the right decision after all.
Was ‘The Rock’ good at football?
Johnson only played two years as a defensive tackle at Freedom High School in Pennsylvania, but that was enough to earn him serious interest from major college football programs. Johnson ultimately accepted a full scholarship from the University of Miami and began his college football career in 1991.
Johnson was primarily a reserve during his Miami career, recording 77 tackles and four sacks in four seasons. He played behind future Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp and was recruited by defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, so Johnson was closely connected with major names during his time with the Hurricanes, which began with a national championship his freshman year.
Orgeron told ESPN in 2012 Johnson “could have been an all-conference, perhaps an all-American,” if Sapp wasn’t ahead of him. In today’s transfer portal era, it may have been easier for Johnson to find that playing time.
Dwayne Johnson’s CFL career
Before launching his wrestling career, Johnson attempted to turn professional in football and signed with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders.
The stint didn’t last too long. Johnson was released two months into the 1995 season. His history of getting buried on the depth chart of great teams continued: Calgary finished 15-3 that year.
Did Dwayne Johnson play in the NFL?
Despite Orgeron’s high hopes for Johnson, an unsuccessful stint in the CFL is not usually a pathway to the NFL.
After dealing with multiple injuries and a lack of playing time at Miami, he went undrafted in 1995 and did not find another professional contract after his deal with the Stampeders.
Now, Johnson is operating a league that could give former college football standouts and NFL role players a second chance.
While the goal is to turn the XFL into a permanent spring football league, it’s not far-fetched to believe this is personal for Johnson, whose league will give chances to players that might not have gotten a fair shot at other times in their careers.
Did Dwayne Johnson play football at the professional level?
Dwayne Johnson didn’t get drafted in the NFL after his collegiate career for the Miami Hurricanes. However, that didn’t prevent him from pursuing professional football.
Despite not having his name called in the NFL Draft, he later signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1995. The Stampeders moved him to linebacker from the defensive tackle position he had played.
He was placed on Calgary’s practice squad; however, he never saw any playing time and was released two months later.
His attempt at a football career was the driving force of his investment in the XFL. As a co-owner of the league, he hopes to give football players an opportunity to pursue a football career.
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