Roman Reigns was unable to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on Sunday at WrestleMania 31, losing the title match after being pinned by Seth Rollins. But Reigns, whose real name is Joe Anoa’i, can rest easy knowing that he gave it the old college try. Or, as the highlights above show, the old high school try.
It turns out that Reigns was quite the high school football player once upon a time, even winning Defensive Player of the Year from the Pensacola News Journal as a senior linebacker at Escambia High School (Pensacola, Fla.) in 2002 after finishing with 120 tackles, 12 sacks, and six forced fumbles.
“Joe was as energetic and passionate a football player as he is in the ring,” said Greg Seibert, his coach at Pensacola Catholic prior to his transfer to Escambia for his senior year. “The consummate competitor, Joe’s attitude brought out the best in the players around him. He was a pleasure to work with as a high school athlete.”
Reigns went on to play four seasons at Georgia Tech, and he even made the rosters of both the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted rookie in the 2007 draft class.
Sadly, his football career was not to be, perhaps because the Superman Punch was outlawed by the NFL back in the 1930s (citation needed). Of course, the wrestling world is better for it.