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Was The Rock good at football? Revisiting Dwayne Johnson’s NFL, CFL and college playing career

Dwayne Johnson is better known as an actor than as a football player. In fact, he’s better known as an actor, wrestler, businessman, and philanthropist than as a soccer player.

However, “The Rock” had a football career of his own long before he became a worldwide superstar. That may have been a factor in his 2020 purchase of the XFL, which will culminate in the league’s long-awaited relaunch this weekend.

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The Sporting News takes a look back at Johnson’s football career, from the University of Miami to the CFL.

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Johnson only played two years as a defensive tackle at Freedom High School in Pennsylvania, but that was enough to earn him a serious interest in major college football programs. Johnson eventually accepted a full scholarship from the University of Miami and began his college football career in 1991.

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Johnson was primarily a reserve during his Miami career, recording 77 tackles and four sacks over 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 associated with big names during his stint with the Hurricanes, which began with a national championship in his freshman year.

Orgeron told ESPN in 2012 that Johnson “could have been an all-conference, maybe all-American” if Sapp hadn’t got ahead of him. In today’s transfer portal era, it may have been easier for Johnson to find this season.

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Dwayne Johnson’s CFL Career

Before starting his wrestling career, Johnson attempted to turn pro in football and signed with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders.

The stint didn’t last too long. Johnson was fired two months into the 1995 season. Its history of being buried on big teams’ depth charts continued: Calgary finished 15-3 that year.

MORE: Remembering ‘The Rock’s’ stint at the Stamps

Did Dwayne Johnson play in the NFL?

Despite Orgeron’s high hopes for Johnson, an unsuccessful stint in the CFL isn’t typically a route to the NFL.

After dealing with multiple injuries and a lack of playing time in Miami, he was undrafted in 1995 and failed to find another professional contract after his deal with the Stampeders.

MORE: 2023 XFL rosters: Full draft results, team-by-team picks

Now Johnson runs a league that could give former college football stars 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 think this is personal to Johnson, whose league will give opportunities to players who may not get a fair chance at other times in their careers have.

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