Football and professional wrestling tend to attract athletes who could be politely described as “freakishly large,” and there are a handful of notable names who’ve managed to hold their own in both spheres. That list doesn’t include Andre the Giant, but one NFL team did kick the tires on the legendary figure toward the beginning of his career.
The man born André Roussimoff grew up in France, and when he was a teenager, he attracted the attention of a promoter in Paris who understandably saw a ton of potential in the untapped talent who’d eventually become one of the most recognizable pro wrestlers on the planet.
The oversized grappler spent around a decade honing his skills at shows around the world before he caught the eye of Vince McMahon Sr., who rebranded him as “Andre the Giant” after signing him to the company that’s now known as the WWE.
Andre the Giant made his debut for the promotion in 1973 and quickly made his way up the ranks while establishing himself as one of its most valuable assets. While he did face off against a number of NFL players in a battle royal at Wrestlemania 2, that was really the extent of his experience with football—although there was one franchise that toyed with the idea of signing him.
Andre the Giant was briefly courted by an NFL team
Any claims about the height and weight of professional wrestlers need to be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s believed Andre the Giant stood at 7’4″ and weighed between 425 and 520 pounds at various stages of his career.
While the NFL has boasted plenty of impossibly large human beings over the years, simply checking that box doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be successful in the league. With that said, it certainly doesn’t hurt, and you don’t need to be a genius to understand why some teams would be intrigued by the idea of having someone his size on their roster.
In 1975, George Allen was serving as the coach and GM of the franchise that was then known as the Washington Redskins, and in July of that year, he suggested the team was genuinely interested in inviting Andre the Giant to training camp to see if he had what to took to be a defensive end.
Outlets who reported on the story at the time acknowledged there was a chance it could be a publicity stunt, but Washington nonetheless committed to the bit by inviting him to a luncheon where he rubbed shoulders with quarterback Joe Theismann.
The team faced a couple of major hurdles when it came to pursuing Andre the Giant.
The wrestler had an incredibly busy touring schedule that made it difficult for him to carve out a few days to show off his stuff at training camp, and even if he’d managed to do so, the $200,000 he was getting paid on an annual basis was more than Washington was paying every single member of its defensive line combined.
Vince McMahon Jr. would eventually acknowledge there was never a serious chance Andre would defect, saying:
“It was really just publicity, and everybody went along with it…
Andre had no intention of trying out for football. He was making too much money in wrestling.”
However, I’d love to get a glimpse at the timeline where he did exactly that.