Brock Lesnar is one of the most decorated athletes of all time. He is a former NCAA Heavyweight Champion, WWE Champion and UFC Champion. His resume is easily the most impressive in professional wrestling history.
His list of accomplishments are matched by very few, and his sheer dominance in almost every combat sport he has competed in is unparalleled. The same, however, cannot be said for his pro football career. His advocate, Paul Heyman, has mentioned countless times that Brock Lesnar is unstoppable and resembles nothing close to a human being.
Also read: Paul Heyman’s net worth revealed
Contrary to what Heyman pontificates on television, The Beast Incarnate has met with failure. He has faced adversity and has been made to look like a mere mortal. This is perfectly illustrated through the story of Brock Lesnar’s unsuccessful National Football League career.
Brock Lesnar had a humble upbringing. He was born and brought up in Webster, South Dakota - a town of 1,886 inhabitants. While he had developed an interest in wrestling and strength building, he was pretty much blown away by the sport of football, like an average American probably is.
Lesnar wanted to pursue a career in football as a high school student at the Webster High School. He last played football as a high school senior in 1995. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, as a NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion, with an astonishing record of 106-5, there were several career options on the table for the Next Big Thing.
Brock was offered a try-out for the National Football League by a former coach, and there was the deal offered by the WWE. Enticed by the guaranteed dollars offered by the WWE, rather than the potential NFL dollars, Brock Lesnar made up his mind and signed the biggest developmental contract with the WWE.
This move essentially put his long cherished dream on hold for the time being.
Lesnar leaves WWE to pursue his dream
While Lesnar is now a part-time attraction, during his initial run, he did travel the miles as any full-time active member of the WWE roster would.
Lesnar probably had the greatest two-year run of any superstar in WWE history, capturing the WWE Championship, winning the King of the Ring 2002 and winning the 2003 Royal Rumble; within a span of just under two years.
However, Lesnar’s frustration increased with the constant travelling and the road schedule of the WWE, which comes with the money, perks and glamour of the business. Brock Lesnar made his decision known to the WWE, that he intended to leave the WWE following the conclusion of Wrestlemania XX.
WWE was incredibly supportive of his decision and wished him the very best in his pursuit to achieve his long-standing goal.
The Beast excels at the NFL Combine
After deciding that he was going to try his hand at the sport that first caught his fancy, Brock Lesnar began training in Arizona, with the hopes of catching the eye of the NFL franchises and making it to the practice squad.
Brock Lesnar shone during the NFL Draft combine and registered some unbelievable numbers. The Draft Combine is where prospects perform a series of drills, including mental and physical tests, in front of the general managers, scouts and officials from all the NFL franchises.
Weight: 283 lbs
40 Yard Dash Time: 4.7 seconds
Vertical Jump height: 35 inches
Standing Long Jump distance: 10 feet
Bench Press: 225 lbs at 30 reps
During this time, Lesnar was involved in an accident, when his motorcycle slammed into a minivan, causing him a catalogue of injuries including broken jaw, fractured hand, pulled groin and bruised testicles. Despite this, Brock Lesnar persisted with his training and his prayers seemed to have been finally been answered.
His long-awaited dream of making it to the NFL was fulfilled by Minnesota Vikings, as he was selected for the practice squad without any prior major football experience.
Addition and omission by the Minnesota Vikings
Despite suffering a setback in form of a motorcycle accident and sustaining multitude of injuries, Brock Lesnar fully recovered, and joined the Vikings roster in time for their pre-season preparations. Brock Lesnar was a favourite amongst his teammates, who respected him for his hard work and willingness to improve.
Lesnar took #69 and played defensive tackle for the Vikings in the pre-season. Brock knew that one thing he didn’t have on his side was time. It is very difficult and challenging, even for the players who do go through a successful college career, to crack the NFL nut.
Lesnar last played football as a high school senior, and hence, it was always going to be an uphill battle for him in the NFL.
Lesnar participated in the two-month long training camp with the Vikings and was featured in the pre-season. Unfortunately, that was all that he had to show for his NFL career, as he was omitted from the final roster, that would make it through to the regular season. A lot of factors added up and contributed to his unsuccessful attempt of making it big in the NFL.
First of all, his body was already riddled with a lot of injuries from his time in the WWE, which was the result of constantly being on the road for 280 days a year. Even though he did recover from the accident and managed to participate in the training camp, it is safe to assume that he was far from fully healed.
While Brock Lesnar had the freak athleticism, strength and agility, his biggest drawback would have to be, that he didn’t necessarily have the footballing instincts and acumen that is required to succeed at the highest level.
On the surface, it would seem that a guy with physical attributes like Lesnar, he would be able to make a seamless transition to pro football. As it was evident by his example, those attributes and skills that assisted him in wrestling and MMA, weren’t transferrable to the football field.
After being cut by the Vikings, Lesnar made a brief return to wrestling.
He then forayed into the world of Mixed Martial Arts signing with the UFC, becoming the biggest draw in the promotion’s history and capturing the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Lesnar’s professional life came full circle when he made his return to the WWE in 2012, and he has been a part-time marquee attraction for the company ever since.
Published 03 Nov 2016, 19:15 IST