Andre the Giant Never Tried Out for the Redskins
"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.
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