The Story Of How Jim Ross Signed Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson To The WWF Is Fascinating

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Dwayne Johnson has accomplished more in his 46 years than most people can wrap their heads around. A high school football All-American, a University of Miami national champion, one of the most iconic WWF personalities ever, the second-highest paid actor in the world, producer, director, possible presidential candidate, the list goes on.

A recent Bleacher Report profile has delved into the life of Dwayne Johnson before he was The Rock, when he was known to his teammates at the U as “Dewey.” His former coaches, teammates and WWF trainers describe him using words like “reserved” and “quiet” and “respectful,” a far cry from his animated stage persona.

Dewey attended the University of Miami in the early 90s, smack dab in the programs reign of terror on college football–Johnson played with nine future NFLers, two All-Americans and one future Hall of Famer on the defensive line alone. As far as his productivity on the field, lets check in with his former teammates.

“As a football player, on a scale of 1 to 10, Dewey was a 6,” former teammate and NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp says.

Leon Searcy, who played offensive tackle at Miami from 1987 to 1991 and later enjoyed a 10-year NFL career, adds a caveat to Sapp’s harsh assessment.

“I can understand the 6-out-of-10 rating, because the standards at the University of Miami were so high. You have to remember Sapp was unblockable his senior year. So Rock had some amazing talent around him that he had to live up to.”

“Dewey was relentless. You couldn’t slow him down. Every damn practice, he went fast—100 mph, which the coaches loved. I thought he was crazy. But he was an amazing talent.

“Nobody on our offensive line could block him. He was that strong.”

Johnson’s plaguing injuries would prohibit him from playing his senior year at the U and after getting released by  the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, Johnson was in a dark place with only $7 in his pocket.

That’s when WWF recruiter-turned-play-by-play announcer Jim Ross came calling. His story about the first time he met the eventual eight time WWF/WWE Champion is pretty incredible.

They linked for the first time in Florida in 1995, shortly after Dwayne was released by Buono and the Stampeders. Ross watched the behemoth work out, and then they grabbed lunch at a little Cuban joint. Ross remembers the meal like it was yesterday.

“He wore a tank top, and of course sitting in a booth with me made him look even better.”

They both ordered grilled chicken with black beans and yellow rice, and Ross noticed Johnson’s magnetism immediately. The customers and employees at the restaurant couldn’t take their eyes off him. Men and women alike were stopping by the table to catch a glimpse.

“This is no exaggeration: Every female that worked there came by at least once to give us more water. … Even the females who didn’t work there.

“A lot of times men will look at athletes like Rock and be jealous because their girlfriends are gonna like him a lot. The men were taken with him. They came by, too.

“He looked like a star.”

What impressed Ross the most about Johnson, though, wasn’t his look. It wasn’t his ability to run the ropes. It was something else.

At the time, Johnson’s dream of playing football in the NFL had just been crushed. He had broken up with his girlfriend and moved back home with his parents in Tampa. He hit rock bottom (pun fully intended). Life kicked him in the ass. It took some time, but he got back up. Despite having only $7 to his name at the time (hence, Seven Bucks Productions company), Johnson won Ross over with his positive spirit in the face of adversity—something he continues to preach and exhibits today.

“Rock said, ‘I’m going to be your No. 1 guy,'” Ross recalls. “I didn’t take that as arrogance. I did not take it as being egocentric. It was a quiet calmness and confidence that he was going to be successful.

Check out the entire profile over at Bleacher Report.

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Matt’s love of writing was born during a sixth grade assembly when it was announced that his essay titled “Why Drugs Are Bad” had taken first prize in D.A.R.E.’s grade-wide contest. The anti-drug people gave him a $50 savings bond for his brave contribution to crime-fighting, and upon the bond’s maturity 10 years later, he used it to buy his very first bag of marijuana.