As he prepares to main event his second consecutive WrestleMania, Roman Reigns admits that the journey from a failed National Football League (NFL) career to the glory of being a two-time WWE World Heavyweight champion is hard to grasp.
In a new interview with The Edmonton Sun, Reigns talked about several topics, including his family lineage in the pro wrestling industry and his time as a football player. Reigns admits that he played football since he was 7-years-old and that it was a major passion of his.
After a successful high school football career in Pensacola, Florida, Reigns attended Georgia Tech University. He was a starter for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for three years, starting during his sophomore year. However, Reigns went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft and went on to sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, Reigns was released by the Vikings shortly threafter. He latched on with the Jacksonville Jaguars but once again, he was cut before the season.
As a last resort, Reigns signed with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League (CFL). At the time, he remembers thinking about life after football while he was still on the gridiron.
“I was starting to have those thoughts of, ‘OK, if something magical doesn’t happen up here, something really great that’s going to build a foundation either up here, or able to propel me back down south to the NFL, then I don’t know if I want to invest anymore energy into football,’ because I had played it for so long. I had played it since seven years old, essentially.”
After playing in just five games with the team, Reigns was released in early November of 2008. That marked the end of his football career as Reigns officially retired from the game. While he didn’t attain the success he initially hoped, Reigns adds that being able to watch the game as a mere fan has kept his love intact.
“I don’t regret anything in football,” Reigns admitted to the Edmonton Sun. “I still love the game, I still love to watch it. It’s even better now to watch it as a fan.”
Now, Reigns is a polarizing figure in the WWE Universe and is a future cornerstone of the industry. He has experienced success as both a tag team and singles competitor. At the start, Reigns was a member of The Shield, a popular threesome of fighters that also included Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins; winning the tag team titles on one occasion (with Rollins). When the trio disbanded in 2014, Reigns moved into the singles spotlight.
However, the WWE Universe has played a huge role in Reigns’ career. The company has shown a certain liking for Reigns, something that fans do not like in determing which superstars could/should enjoy success. While he has garnered tremendous receptions on certain occasions, he generally receives a mixed reaction at WWE events worldwide.
Now, with the fans clearly wanting more, Reigns will face Triple H for WWE World Heavyweight championship at WrestleMania 32 in one week. After suffering the loss at WrestleMania 31 last year after Rollins cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase, Reigns is looking to shoulder the responsibility at WWE’s top performer.
“I think once you’ve had the title, that’s all you really think about,” he said. “It’s weird to say, I’m a two-time champion — hopefully three-time after Dallas — there is huge enjoyment to have that title on your shoulder, to travel the whole world to defend it every single night in a different town, all over the country, all over the world.”
[Featured Image via WWE]