There’s a fair amount of crossover between football and professional wrestling, as both pastimes largely revolve around impossibly muscular freaks of nature with a predisposition for brain trauma pulling off violently athletic feats with ease. As a result, it makes sense that a number of WWE superstars made a name for themselves on the gridiron before making the leap to the ring.
The most notable example is undoubtedly Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who played at the University of Miami and opted to pivot to wrestling following a brief stint in the CFL. The WWE roster has also featured a handful of players who spent some (albeit brief) time in the NFL, including Goldberg, who was selected by the Rams with the 301st pick in the 1990 NFL Draft before finding a bit more success in the squared circle midway through the decade.
None of the guys in that second group came close to reaching “NFL Veteran” status. However, it’s not exactly shocking seasoned pros aren’t jumping at the chance to join the WWE after hanging up their cleats when you consider the beating they typically take over the course of their career.
With that said, it seemed like Rob Gronkowski was genuinely interested in doing exactly that after he signed a contract with the WWE after announcing his retirement in 2020.
Gronk had previously hopped out of the stands to give Mojo Rawley some help during a tag team match at WrestleMania 33 in 2017, and he briefly claimed the 24/7 Championship belt when he betrayed the superstar shortly after inking the deal that ended when he decided to join Tom Brady on the Buccaneers.
There’s no telling how things would’ve panned out if Gronk hadn’t taken his talents to Tampa Bay, but Rowley recently shed some light on what things may have looked like in the alternate universe where the WWE was able to follow through on its plans for the tight end during an appearance on the 10 Count podcast.
During the conversation, Rowley (who Maryland football fans knew as “Dean Muhtadi” during a college football career with the Terrapins that preceded shortlived preseason stints with the Packers and Cardinals) spilled some details about the specifics of the idea the WWE dreamed up.
Based on his recollection, he and Gronkowski were set to be at the center of a storyline spanning multiple matches and continents before Brady screwed things up by convincing his former teammate to join him in Florida in April of 2020:
“The plan was to do a tag match with me and him at SummerSlam because it was in Boston that year. Man, that would have been ridiculous!
From Boston, I think I was going to turn on him and I think we were going to have the one-on-one No DQ match in Saudi Arabia, where my dad’s whole side of the family lives. I thought that was gonna be dope.
Rob had, I believe, $10 million or more on the table to go back for one season left on his contract, and it was a no-brainer.”
Oh, what could’ve been.