Dwayne Johnson’s NFL Rejection Had Not Only Crushed His Football Dream but Also Gave The Rock a Huge Personal Setback at 23 Years of Age

Published 06/11/2023, 10:00 AM EDT

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At 24 years of age, Dwayne Johnson made his debut in WWE in 1996. Just a year prior, Johnson had suffered a huge setback that forced him to throw his initial career plans away. Several years later, The People’s Champion restarted a defunct minor football league which saved many from going through the peril that he had once experienced.

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But not just the broken dream of a football career, the NFL rejection in 1995 dealt a blow to one of The Rock’s wishes which he kept close to his heart.

Football didn’t end on his terms, reckons The Rock

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Johnson played as a defensive lineman at the University of Miami, hoping to make it to the NFL draft. However, an injury dashed his hopes. He was hit by depression soon after and eventually, it degraded his performance, and he lost his position at Miami to prominent NFL player Warren Sapp.

Then a 23-year-old, he was still hopeful of a call from the football league, which never came, and it hurt it. “Football was my dream,” Johnson told Forbes recently. “The NFL was my thing,” he added. He had his plans laid out. He wanted to achieve something from his salary that would have given him a chance at redemption.

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via Imago

The Johnsons were evicted once due to failure of rent payment and young Dwayne wanted to solve the issue with his NFL checks. “I was going to buy my parents their first house,” he said, recalling the rejection. He was able to buy his parents their houses, though later, but the NFL dream didn’t go the way he planned. “Football didn’t end on my terms,” he added.

Dwayne Johnson channelized his failures into positivity and bought the defunct XFL to realize his once-lost dreams. His decision to relaunch the minor football league has been validated by recent developments.

XFL proves beneficial to its players

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After acquiring XFL from his former boss Vince McMahon in August 2020, Johnson said the X in the XFL is an intersection of dreams and opportunity. The league was initially launched by McMahon in 2001. But the pro-wrestling mogul failed to make it a success. Another failed attempt followed in 2020. However, his former employee saw the opportunity and seized it.

The third season of the league was a success and attracted a decent crowd. The final was witnessed by an over 20,000 live crowd, including Johnson and his co-owner Dany Garcia in May. According to reports, over 20 XFL players have been signed by various NFL teams, thus proving Johnson’s words right.

via Imago

Currently, the XFL comprises eight teams. According to other partners in the league, XFL is going to scale up in the next few seasons. That said, what is your take on Dwayne Johnson’s early setback? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by:

Sudipto Maity

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One take at a time

Sudipto is a WWE writer at Essentially Sports. He holds a PG degree in Mass Communication. Being an experienced journalist, Sudipto has interviewed WWE Superstars Alberto Del Rio and Sheamus and hopes to add some more names to that list.
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Edited by:

Sherjeel Malik

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