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“We Had Competitions”: Dwayne Johnson Opens Up on Having “Beef” With Miami Hurricanes Legend

Published 09/24/2023, 4:10 PM EDT

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Before he tried to etch his mark in Hollywood and pro wrestling, Dwayne Johnson tried his hand at pursuing glory in the NFL. He legitimately worked hard and arguably had a toe inside the NFL. But that wasn’t to be. It doesn’t come as a surprise that in the heated realm of competitive sports, tensions flare occasionally, leading to the birth of healthy competition. The Hollywood star also underwent a similar experience in his initial years.

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Many of Johnson’s friends from high school, who he played football with, later made it to the big league. During his formative years, he developed a good competition with a popular college football player. In a recent interview, The Rock opened up on whether he had actual “beef” with the Hurricanes legend after the host quizzed about it.

Dwayne Johnson reveals whether he had a problem with Miami Hurricanes teammate


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In his quest to join the NFL, Johnson played for the Miami Hurricanes in his freshman year in 1991. It proved to be a fruitful endeavor as the team went on to win the national championship. Apart from the WWE icon, that team also had Mario Cristobal, the current head coach of the Hurricanes.

Apart from winning the 1991 championship, Cristobal had also won it in 1989. While Johnson is one of the most popular players from the batch, the head coach is a bonafide legend of the University of Miami football team. Recently, The Brahma Bull spoke to Dan Sileo on JAKIB Sports. The host addressed how he brought up the history between Cristobal and The Rock to the current Hurricanes coach.


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Sileo told The Rock, “I had him on last week and I go, ‘I gotta tell you something man. Coach [Ed] Orgeron told me something. Do you guys still have a beef with one another?’ and Mario goes like this ‘What makes you think we had a beef?’ I go, “No, I just heard there was a little battle between you and him every time you got into practice, you guys would battle back and forth’. He goes, ‘You know I love the guy, you know we love one another, because that’s just what it is’ and I said, ‘I’m just curious, because I’m gonna talk to Rock soon.’ You guys had a great rivalry man’.”  

Johnson said while he got along well with other players and had a good time, it was during practice that Cristobal would show his ruthless side to the newly joined defensive tackle. “I mean we were banging every single day…. the one in front of me, every time, two practices a day, every day was Mario Cristobal. I mean we were banging on the field, in the weight room we had competitions,” Johnson said.

Every athlete knows that you constantly have to push one another to aspire to reach greater heights. The Rock too, understood the value of Cristobal’s actions as they cultivated a very successful team. Moreover, he also praised his senior teammate as the right man to lead the team in the present.

Johnson praises Mario Cristobal as “the absolute best teammate”

Being the Hollywood star’s first love, he consistently keeps up to date with all the happenings in football. Suffice it to say that Johnson still keeps a keen eye on things pertaining to the Miami Hurricanes. Having spent time together overcoming obstacles and coming out on top together during Miami’s 1991 national championship run, Johnson and Cristobal know what it takes to achieve success in a team sport.

Despite having beef with one another as hot-headed young stars, Johnson hailed his teammate’s qualities and believed Cristobal could lead his former side to success. Johnson admitted that the hardships he endured during his time with Cristobal made each of them better in pursuit of the greater good. He also expressed his pride in seeing his former teammate succeed and thoroughly backed Cristobal to lead the team to glory.


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The former teammates have carved out different career paths to great success. Johnson followed in the footsteps of his legendary family members- the Anoa’i’s. The rest, as they say, is history. Decades have passed and Johnson still continues to rule the roost in pro wrestling.

Would he have had the same success in the NFL? That’s a debate for another day. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to deny that his stint with the Canes helped him forge his immaculate character. 


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What do you make of his feud with Cristobal during their early years? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by:

Sudipto Maity


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