Long before “Suplex City” became popularized in the World Wrestling Entertainment universe, Brock Lesnar was grappling with another career momentarily — the National Football League.
When Was the Multiple WWE Champion in the NFL?
Lesnar had established himself as one of the faces of the WWE by taking on the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, and The Big Show in the ring. But it was the aftermath of one last match that eventually parlayed into his jump to the NFL.
It was Spring 2004 when Lesnar took on another wrestler with a football past — Bill Goldberg, at Wrestlemania 20 in New York City — a match that also featured Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee.
After that match, Lesnar made the bold move to leave the business as a fast-rising superstar to pursue a roster spot with the Minnesota Vikings. And that was during a time the Vikings were led by Mike Tice as head coach.
News of Lesnar’s decision to pursue an NFL career came with skeptics. While Lesnar was in tremendous shape and brought his muscular frame to the league, he had no previous college football experience. His last taste of being on the football field was his high school years. His college athletics past involved him starring on the mat for the University of Minnesota.
Still, 15 years ago, Lesnar told the website Bloody Elbow how serious he was about pursuing the opportunity to chase down a spot on an NFL roster.
“This is no load of bull; it’s no WWE stunt. I am dead serious about this…I ain’t afraid of anything, and I ain’t afraid of anybody,” Lesnar said. “I’ve been an underdog in athletics since I was 5. I got zero college offers for wrestling. Now people say I can’t play football, that it’s a joke. I say I can. I’m as good an athlete as a lot of guys in the NFL, if not better… I’ve always had to fight for everything.”
It additionally meant ending a brief sabbatical away from the gridiron for Lesnar. But he still did enough to impress the Vikings early on.
Lesnar showed his speed with a 4.7 time in the 40-yard dash. He also hit 30 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds. He delivered the kind of Combine results that would’ve likely gotten him in conversations of being a late Day 1 or Day 2 draft pick.
What Happened Next With Brock Lesnar and His Vikings Career?
Lesnar did indeed manage to see the field briefly during the 2004 NFL preseason. He saw some action as a “B” gap interior defensive lineman with less than three minutes to play against the San Francisco 49ers. Lesnar also showed his penetration ability against offensive lines during another August contest against the Arizona Cardinals.
Unfortunately, Lesnar’s NFL hopes faced another dilemma: Recovering from a motorcycle accident before the 2004 season — which injured his pelvis, groin, and suffered a broken jaw. The Vikings ultimately released Lesnar to finalize their 53-member roster for that season.
Lesnar was given an opportunity to continue his possible NFL career through the Vikings, which would’ve sent him to NFL Europe. Lesnar, however, declined the opportunity to head overseas and ultimately dove into the world of mixed martial arts.
Now, the world knows him as the founder of “Suplex City” and a seven-time WWE champion with an additional heavyweight title from his UFC days.