The Rock suffered brutal NFL snub but calls it “best thing that never happened to me”

Dwayne Johnson has revealed how being rejected in the NFL Draft helped shape his future career.

Johnson, nicknamed The Rock, started out his career in American Football while at college with the University of Miami and looked impressive during the start of his career. He had hoped to be drafted by an NFL team in 1995 and declared himself eligible for the Draft, only to fail to attract enough interest to get picked.

The 51-year-old, who was a defensive tackle, instead joined the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Johnson’s time in the CFL would be rather brief, as he was eventually cut and his career in professional football seemed to be at an end.

Johnson went on to follow in the footsteps of his father, Rocky Johnson, by stepping into the world of professional wrestling. He become a global superstar during his time in the WWE, before becoming a Hollywood A-lister. And now Johnson says that being rejected by the NFL at a young age ended up doing his good in the long run.

Although, Johnson did have some hope that his NFL career would still be alive on the second day of the draft. However, it turned out that a phone call he received was from his own grandmother rather from a prospective team.

“I always say me playing in the NFL wound up being the best thing that never happened to me,” Johnson told The Pivot podcast. “It really helped shape and inform who I am. I could sit here today and tell you how grateful I am that I didn’t make it. On the second day, the phone rang, and I was like, ‘This is it.’ I picked up the phone and said hello.

“And I hear ‘Tuife’ai,’ which is my Samoan name from my grandmother, who passed away. I was like, ‘Grandma.’ She’s like, ‘You get drafted to the NFL?’ ‘No, grandma. No.’ ‘Goodbye. I love you.’ Boom.’ So anyway, it’s shaped me and helped me into who I am.”

Dwayne Johnson became the co-owner of the XFL years after not being drafted in the NFL
Dwayne Johnson became the co-owner of the XFL years after not being drafted in the NFL 
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Years later, Johnson would be back involved with football when he helped buy the XFL, an American football minor league, along with his business partners, Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital. Johnson says that helping players who don’t make it to the NFL is a major reason for his decision to get back into the world of football.

Johnson said: “It was an easy yes for me, because it wasn’t, man, this thing has failed twice already, maybe Spring football just doesn’t work. But it was just the opportunity to create opportunities for dudes like me who just didn’t get drafted. And I felt like, and Dany felt like this too, if we could take our time, let’s not try and put it on its feet too quick.

“Let’s go to New York and sit with Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, and we did, and said ‘here’s what we’d like to do’. There is no competition with the NFL, that is the gold standard. But what we’d love to do is try and grow the game of football, out of respect. Is there a way we can find a partnership?

“And Roger (Goodell) looked at all of us and said ‘yes’. So that’s the first step. The next part was ‘let’s take our time, let’s do it right, and let’s build the league’.”

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