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The NFL has had its share of athletes who have gone on to other sports following illustrious careers in the league. Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Mark Gastineau, Alonzo Highsmith, and Lyle Alzado became boxers and just recently Ray Edwards and Tom Zibikowski have attempted the same. The great Herschel Walker has also flirted with MMA. Despite some of these forays into other sports, there have been no real breakthroughs into the WWE.
Guys like Brain Bozworth, Steve Emtman, Tony Mandrich and Dave Rimington were college football studs that had brief NFL careers. You have to wonder what could of happened if any of these mighty men would have starred in the WWE?
Football careers can be short, as evidenced by these same four players’ careers, but maybe they could have pumped some life into the WWE. The Big Show and Mark Henry can certainly appear to be pretty mean, but Ndamukong Suh could teach either of them a thing or two about what it is really like to be nasty and mean.
Imagine J.J. Watt flying through the air, Richard Sherman in a backstage disagreement with Damien Sandow, Troy Polamalu doing a Polynesian dance with the Uso brothers or Cam Newton coming out in a superhero cape. Many of these stars could inject some great story lines into the sometimes stagnant WWE. The following are ten worthy contenders for a potential spotlight in the WWE.
10. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots TE (6’6″ – 265 lbs) – The Gronk
Rob Gronkowski is big, strong, athletic and crazy enough to make an impact in the WWE. Gronkowski has been seen dancing on the stage before, and is no stranger to entertaining and having a little fun. The WWE would be the ultimate stage for Gronkowski to have some fun using his sturdy 265 lb frame.
Gronkowski is an athletic marvel for a man of his size, with clean cut looks and a chiseled body to match. In the NFL he has already raised plenty of eyebrows with his record breaking season in 2010. Gronkowski had 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns receiving, which were both NFL records for a tight end. He has been battling injuries the past two seasons, but has still revolutionized the tight end position in the NFL.
Nicknamed “Gronk” in the NFL, Gronkowski could be the perfect ham to flex his muscles to the crowd and be in love with himself much like a Cody Rhodes or Daniel Otunga. Win or lose, Gronkowski could be the perfect complement to any WWE show.
9. Richie Incognito, Miami Dolphins G (6’3″ – 320 lbs) – The Great Gangsta
If you think Richie Incognito might be a little controversial, you would certainly be part of the majority. However, the WWE is missing a controversial figure who can get beat almost every given night. Richie can be the guy who comes out and incites fans, gets in the other wrestler’s face, loses and still draws attention from the crowd. Think of all the great story lines with a guy of Richie’s size and brutish strength.
Incognito is also a great athlete as his numbers at the 2005 NFL combine clearly show. Running a 4.84 second 40-yard dash and bench pressing 225 pounds 29 times, Incognito was considered one of the most explosive athletes at the combine. Since then he has been a solid NFL player and appeared in one Pro Bowl in 2012, even though his status in the NFL is currently in doubt.
Incognito’s problems with the Miami Dolphins have unfortunately been par far the course throughout his football career. One thing that you could be sure about, is if he were to get stared down by The Big Show or Mark Henry, he definitely would not blink.
8. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers S (5’10” – 207 lbs) – The Flying Hawaiian
Troy Polamalu could come out and represent Pacific Islanders with his Hawaiian-like looks and famous flowing black hair. In a sport that caters to diversity, Polamalu has plenty of diversity to spare. He is not a prototypical WWE wrestler but is muscular, compact and no stranger to knocking bigger men off their feet.
Polamalu came out of USC as a first-team All-American with a 4.3 second 40-yard dash speed and a crazy 43″ vertical leap. Polamalu has credentials in the NFL, helping lead the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles, making eight Pro Bowl appearances and winning the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010. He is as well known for his intense play as he is for his long flowing hair.
The Uso brothers might currently be able to represent the Pacific Islands, but Polamalu would add even more incredible athleticism to the mix.
7. Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings DE (6’6″ – 270 lbs) – The Cowboy
Jared Allen is a throwback player of sorts, with his scruffy beard and grizzly bear looks. Perfect for playing a wild west cowboy or outdoorsman from Alaska role, which would suit him just fine. Allen is often called “Rodeo” in the NFL for his cowboy-like appearance and way of life.
Allen doesn’t do much to impress with his speed and athleticism, but all he continues to do is perform. Allen finished the 2011 season with a Viking’s franchise record 22 quarterback sacks. His motor, intensity and ability to use quickness and leverage to throw blockers off-balance is legendary throughout the NFL. He can enter the ring with cowboy boots and a lasso, but it is the lunch pail he can carry that can earn him his fame.
Allen is no stranger to showing different antics following a quarterback sack. He is vocal, enjoys getting under other people’s skin, and could bring the same kind of actions to the WWE.
6. Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers – LB (6’3″ – 235 lbs) – Everybody’s All-American
You couldn’t have the NFL’s tackling machine off this list. Grappling on the gridiron should translate quite nicely into grappling in the ring. Kuechly has good looks and plenty of muscle to go with that hustle he exhibits on the field. Step aside John Cena, Cody Rhodes and The Miz, here comes the new captain of charisma.
In just two years, Kuechly has already made an impression with those who follow the NFL. Averaging 10 tackles a game through 32 regular season games, Kuechly has no problems grabbing a hold of his combatants. These skills at taking down opponents are backed up by his athleticism. At the 2012 NFL draft combine, Kuechly ran a 4.58 second 40-yard dash, had a 38.1″ vertical leap and benched 225 pounds, 27 times while producing the highest Wonderlic intelligence score for linebackers. Damien Sandow step aside.
Kuechly would have to work on being more of an entertainer, but he is a quick study and has the looks and athletic skill to be another good guy on the WWE cast.
5. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers QB (6’5″ – 245 lbs) – Captain Cam
Cam Newton is becoming a major star in the NFL with his work on Nickelodeon’s 2014 Kid’s Choice Awards show proving he can perform on another big stage. Newton is also involved with the NFL’s Play 60 and has grown into his current role as the unquestioned leader of a strong Carolina Panthers team.
Newton is a hulking figure for a quarterback, which gives him the perfect frame for going eye to eye with some of the WWE’s bigger foes. Newton has good looks, a clean image, a magnetic personality, and above else is an outstanding athlete. One of the fastest of this bunch, Newton uses his speed and power to terrorize defenders when he runs with the ball. Newton has rushed for over 2,000 yards in his three year career and his speed and power might move him to the top of the WWE.
Newton could be the caped superhero he has seemingly always wanted to be. His superman pose after scoring a touchdown, would be perfect for the WWE.
4. Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks – CB (6’3″ – 195 lbs) – The Shermanator
Richard Sherman currently might be considered to be too small to wrestle professionally, but his mouth and ability to get under opponents’ skin would make him larger than life in a ring. Sherman could certainly breath some much needed life into WWE’s roster, and after adding a little weight, his athletic skill would be exciting in the ring.
Sherman is presently one of the games best shutdown corners, and he is not shy about letting anyone who stands across from him know it. Trash talking aside, Sherman has intercepted 20 passes in three seasons and has a physical way of taking the opposing team’s best receiver out of the game. For WWE, the best thing about the Stanford grad is that he is never at a loss for words and backs them up with his actions.
Sherman might look a little like Kofi Kingston, but his gift of gab would make him far superior for any wacky story lines in the WWE.
3. J.J. Watt, Houston Texans DE (6’5″ – 290 lbs) – Sir Swat
J.J. Watt is an animal on the football field, but his involvement with after-school athletic programs through his foundation and NFL Play 60, show the rapport he seems to have with kids. Watt can be the new face of the WWE, a less mechanical John Cena and a magnet for planting the seeds for a youth movement into the WWE.
Watt is a complete football player with skills, instincts, and the uncanny athletic ability for launching himself in the air that has earned him the nickname, J.J. Swat. Watt’s 37″ vertical leap (NFL combine) and above average lineman’s speed, make him an athletic marvel who can fire into a backfield or run sideline to sideline if needs be.
Watt could be a perfect good guy, who could also be quite an imposing figure flying off the top of a turnbuckle with his arms spread wide. Watt has all the tools, is friendly with the media and has the star power that could help elevate the WWE.
2. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers LB (6’3″ – 255 lbs) – The Golden Boy
Clay Matthews can hurdle linemen, toss big tackles to the side and chase down any quarterback with his above average speed. Matthews explodes off the line of scrimmage and plays with a reckless abandon that would fit well. His ability to fly around the ring would surely marvel all the fans in the arena and watching at home.
Matthews is more than just a pretty face that promotes razor blades and Campbell’s soup. Already with 50 sacks for his career, he has over 150 QB pressures to prove his capability of getting quickly off the ball. His speed and ideal WWE size, make him a natural for working in between the ropes. His hard driving style of play would blend well with turnbuckle dives, playing off the ropes and launching bigger opponents out of the ring.
Matthews already has been in his share of TV ads and with his Southern California pedigree (USC), he would seem to be the perfect fit. His long locks of blonde hair and stern expression on his face are a cross between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. His smirk alone could help create some good story lines and he is no stranger to talking a good game.
1. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions DT (6’4″ – 307 lbs) – The Indomitable Suh
How could you not like a guy who has administered his fair share of cheap shots already in his brief NFL career? Fines and 15-yard penalties have been par for the course for Suh, from shots to the groin administered to opposing linemen to cut blocks on interception returns. Suh’s antics are an every match occurrence in the WWE.
To start with, Suh is a freakish athlete for such a large human being. The multiple award winner from Nebraska, once recorded seven tackles for loss in a single game with 4 1/2 of them pulling the opposing quarterback to the turf. This feat from the big interior defensive lineman in the Big-12 championship game against Texas helped propel Suh to the top of many draft charts. He plays with a nasty disposition that would even bring a smile to Kevin Nash‘s face.
Suh is big, relentless and could thoroughly enjoy taking cheap shots on opponents when the referee turns his back. A combination of Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar, Suh by way of his NFL actions, is a perfect fit for sports entertainment.
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