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Andre the Giant Never Tried Out for the Redskins


None of these men tried out for the Skins.

"After wrestling in Japan and Canada for a few years, the 27-year-old [Andre the Giant] came under the wing of Vincent K. McMahon and the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1973," Andre's official WWE Hall of Fame bio reads. "Though the company would change dramatically, Andre would remain with the McMahon family for the next 20 years; he was even offered a contract by the NFL's Washington Redskins in 1974, but turned it down to stay in the ring."

"This," I thought when I read about it on Extreme Skins, "is why I wish I grew up here. I should have known that." Some of the posters on Extreme Skins were familiar with the story, saying Skins brass wanted Andre to block kicks. Others speculated about his use as a run-stuffing defensive tackle.

Except the story appears to be hogwash. Too bad. I got suspicious when I searched The Post's archives for "Andre the Giant" and "Redskins" and wound up with a big fat zero. Then I headed to Nexis, which turned up this Sports Illustrated editor's note from 1982:

According to Joe Blair, public relations director of the Redskins, there was talk about giving Andre a tryout in 1976, but it never happened. Andre told [SI's Terry] Todd that he chose not to risk his wrestling career -- he was making more money than any lineman was earning at the time -- by taking time off for a trial in a sport in which he had no guarantee of success and no previous experience.

Newsweek had a similar note in 1993: "When George Allen was running the Redskins, he interviewed this giant who was as big as two linemen. Nothing came of it, but just think."

Which, of course, didn't stop the item from winding up on Andre's Wikipedia page. Oh Internet, how I both love and hate you.

Anyhow, the most recent take-down of the Giant Redskins rumor came from the Orlando Sentinel's Josh Robbins five years ago, in a piece on sports fact and fiction. Here's the Andre nugget:

Rumors surround Andre and the NFL's Washington Redskins. According to various Internet sites, most of which are obsessed with professional wrestling, the 7-foot-4, 520-pound behemoth either was offered a tryout by the Redskins, given a tryout or actually tendered a contract.

To sort out fact from fiction, the Sentinel called the Redskins' media-relations office, and an individual there sought out the help of Bubba Tyer, the team's longtime trainer.

It turns out that George Allen, the Redskins' coach for six seasons during the 1970s, once saw Andre at a promotional event and seriously considered giving the Frenchman a tryout. But a tryout was never held. Our verdict: Andre the Giant never tried out for the Redskins.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 24, 2009; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Comments

Some stories are not meant to be wrote Steinberg.

We all could have gone on believing that Andre was almost a Redskins but for something Vince McMahon did no doubt.

I would like you to write a fictitious story about how Andre tried out, it was the most amazing thing anyone ever saw, and Jack Kent Cook tried to sign him but Vince McMahon got in the way.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 24, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

7'4" was the height Andre was billed at; he was more like 6'10".

Posted by: Tank2 | March 24, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Northern Virginia and as an adolescent, lived and breathed anything-'Skins related during the George Allen tenure. I distinctly recall a short news story on a local broadcast - probably Warner Wolf on CBS-Channel 9 - mid seventies 74 - 76, with George Allen standing next to Andre the Giant at the original Redskins Park, in Herndon, during a news conference. Coach Allen was joking around w/Andre and sayin' how much the 'Skins could use him on the defensive line. I think all it was was a PR stunt because Andre was in town for some sort of wrestling promotion. I would agree that he never actually tried out.

Posted by: jordanfairfaxva | March 24, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I agree Steinberg, it really is too bad that the story isn't true. Imagine how many jerseys Snyder could sell if it were...

Posted by: CapsNut | March 24, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Andre Collins was a giant among linebackers

Posted by: fitzfacts | March 24, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Manute Bol, anyone?

Posted by: WaPoGuy | March 25, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

It wouldn't have been Jack in those days, it would have been Edward Bennett Williams, an interesting character in his own right.

Posted by: c5karl | March 25, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Dan,

I am 45 years old. I know for a fact that when I was a boy either the Post or the other competing Washington paper (was it the Times or another one I don't remember)
had a picture of Joe Theismann on Andre's knee. Joe looked like a ventriloquists dummy he looked so small. I will never forget that picture. I don't remember a tryout, but an invitation to tryout was extended to the Gentle Giant. He refused.

Its a great picture that your readers would love to see again if you can find it.
I think it was taken at Duke's restaurant.

Posted by: MDterpfan | March 25, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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