Brock Lesnar: The Beast That Never Was


Brock Lesnar. The name conjures images of a dominant force, a behemoth who carved his path through the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. But there’s another chapter, a potential timeline, that never came to be: Brock Lesnar, the NFL player. 

This article delves into the intriguing “what if” scenario, exploring the factors that led him away from the gridiron and into the squared circle.

College Prowess: A Dominant Lineman

Born with a physique that screamed athletic potential, Brock Lesnar excelled in wrestling throughout high school. However, his true calling, at least initially, seemed to be on the football field. 

At Webster High School in South Dakota, Lesnar dominated as an offensive lineman. His size (6’3″, 250 lbs even in his high school days) and raw power made him a force to be reckoned with.

This prowess translated to college. Lesnar received numerous scholarship offers, eventually choosing the University of Minnesota. There, he blossomed under the tutelage of coach Bobby Bowden, becoming a key cog in the Golden Gophers’ offensive line. 

Awards and accolades followed, including All-American honors and the prestigious Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman.

The NFL Draft: A Crossroads

The 2000 NFL Draft loomed large. Lesnar, a highly touted prospect, was projected as a potential first-round pick. 

Teams coveted his size, strength, and motor. Scouts envisioned him as a mauling guard or a dominant tackle, anchoring the offensive line and paving the way for running backs.

A Twist of Fate: Injuries Derail the Dream

Lesnar’s pre-draft training took a devastating turn. A serious mononucleosis (mono) infection weakened him significantly. This, coupled with a nagging rib injury, hampered his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, a crucial event where potential draftees showcase their skills. His stock began to slip.

Despite the setbacks, the Minnesota Vikings, Lesnar’s hometown team, selected him in the fifth round of the draft.  It was an opportunity, but not the surefire path to stardom many envisioned. The road to becoming a starting NFL lineman is arduous, filled with fierce competition and grueling training. The lingering effects of his injuries may have made it even more challenging.

The Allure of the Squared Circle

While the NFL dream was on hold, another door opened. World Championship Wrestling (WCW), a rival wrestling promotion to the then-dominant WWF, saw potential in Lesnar. His imposing physique, athleticism, and amateur wrestling background made him a perfect fit for their “sports entertainment” spectacle.

Intrigued by the financial opportunities and a potentially quicker path to fame, Lesnar signed with WCW. The rest, as they say, is history. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the youngest WWE Champion ever at the age of 25. His career trajectory shifted, taking him down the path of professional wrestling superstardom and eventually, mixed martial arts.

The Great Unknown: What If?

The question remains: what if the injuries hadn’t happened? Could Brock Lesnar have overcome the challenges and carved out a successful NFL career?

Here’s what we can speculate:

Physical Potential: Lesnar’s undeniable strength and size would have been assets in the NFL. His work ethic and competitive spirit were evident throughout his college career.

Learning Curve: The transition from college to the pro game is significant. The NFL demands a high level of technique and mental focus. It’s possible Lesnar would have required significant development to reach his full potential.

Injury Vulnerability: The grueling nature of NFL football takes a toll on players’ bodies. Lesnar’s history with injuries raises questions about his long-term durability in the league.

The Legacy: A Missed Opportunity or a Different Path?

Ultimately, Brock Lesnar’s path led him to become a global icon in combat sports.  Whether he would have achieved similar success in the NFL remains a fascinating hypothetical.

One thing is certain: the world never witnessed Brock Lesnar mauling defensive linemen on Sundays.  Instead, they saw him dominate opponents in the ring and the octagon.  While the NFL lost out on a potentially dominant player, the world of professional wrestling and MMA gained a legendary figure.


How good was Brock Lesnar in college football?

Phenomenal. At Webster High School, Lesnar was a standout offensive lineman, garnering attention for his size and strength. This translated perfectly to the University of Minnesota, where he became a key player under coach Bobby Bowden.  Accolades followed, including All-American honors and the prestigious Outland Trophy, awarded to the nation’s best interior lineman.

What were NFL expectations for Lesnar?

Pre-draft projections placed Lesnar as a potential first-round pick. Teams saw him as a potential mauling guard or dominant tackle, anchoring the offensive line and creating running lanes. His size, strength, and athleticism made him a coveted prospect.

What caused Lesnar’s draft stock to fall?

A cruel twist of fate. Before the draft, Lesnar battled mononucleosis (mono) and a nagging rib injury. These setbacks significantly impacted his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he could have showcased his skills. With diminished performance due to illness, his draft stock slipped.

Did Lesnar get drafted into the NFL?

Yes, but not as high as anticipated. The Minnesota Vikings, Lesnar’s hometown team, selected him in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. While an opportunity, it wasn’t the guaranteed path to stardom many envisioned.  The road to becoming a starting NFL lineman is arduous, filled with fierce competition and intense training.

Why did Lesnar choose professional wrestling over the NFL?

While the NFL draft offered a chance, another door swung open. World Championship Wrestling (WCW) saw Lesnar’s potential as a performer in their brand of “sports entertainment.”  The financial opportunities and potentially quicker path to fame likely influenced Lesnar’s decision.

Could Lesnar’s physical attributes have translated to the NFL?

Undoubtedly. Lesnar’s undeniable strength and size were perfect for an NFL lineman.  His collegiate success demonstrates his work ethic and competitive spirit, traits crucial for success in the pros.

How much would Brock Lesnar’s wrestling background have helped him in the NFL?

Surprisingly, quite a bit.  Both require exceptional athleticism, strength, and mental toughness.  His wrestling background honed his ability to overpower opponents, a valuable asset for an offensive lineman.

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