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Can You Smell What ‘Rec Spec’ is Cooking?

Fun-loving Indianapolis Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship became a wrestling fan after meeting legend Ric Flair. His affinity for the sport includes an appreciation for Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s quite the sports world when a nerdy spectacled NFL kicker nicknamed “Rec Spec” can hook up with an iconic wrestling bad boy known back in the day as “Nature Boy.”

Indianapolis Colts rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship met Ric Flair while in college at Georgia, the state where the retired professional wrestler resides. Come to find out, Blankenship was one of Flair’s favorite Bulldogs.

“I went to his 70th birthday party (last year), so we kind of keep in touch here and there, even since then,” a smiling Blankenship said on Tuesday.

Ric "Nature Boy" Flair poses before a 1979 wrestling match in Greenville, S.C.

Ric Flair, "The Nature Boy," before a 1979 match.

That explains why Blankenship, who launched a new merchandise line on Friday, turned to several friends including Flair to get the word out.

“So part of trying to promote it and get people interested in it – we reached out to a few people that I know and were just trying to have them help in any way they can if they like the merchandise, then we send them some,” he said. “We asked them just to put it out on their social media to try and help promote it.

“(Flair) was someone that I thought had a pretty large following, so I said, ‘Hey would you mind doing me a favor and helping me out with my merchandise?’ He was all for it. That’s kind of how that unfolded there.”

Doesn’t that just fit the off-the-wall, unique persona of Blankenship, a 23-year-old kicker who has a youthful exuberance about his interests, which includes LEGOS. As it turns out, he’s become a fan of professional wrestling, too, after attending Flair’s surprise birthday bash along with quarterback Jake Fromm, another of the wrestler’s favorites.

Blankenship laughed repeatedly when asked about the bond. Flair, a muscular and macho 6-1 and 243 pounds in the ring for four decades through 2011, was known for pounding opponents and humiliating them with a wave of his blond hair. Blankenship is the same height, but roughly 60 spindly pounds lighter.

The two enjoyed chatting before Georgia games.

“I was a little bit of a fan,” Blankenship said of wrestling. “I definitely know about Rick Flair. I definitely know about ‘The Rock’ (Dwayne Johnson), and now ‘The Rock’ is doing a lot of other stuff.”

Johnson has become more of a household name as a movie actor.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was a football player before becoming a wrestler and now popular movie actor.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was a college football player before becoming a professional wrestler and movie actor.

“Yeah, I definitely was kind of drawn into that (wrestling) world a little bit because of ‘The Rock’ and his past, being a former football player, then going into WWE, and then everything he’s doing now with his acting and all that other stuff. So, yeah, I definitely was a little bit of a fan, but I definitely got more a little bit more immersed in it after going to (Flair’s) birthday party and seeing a lot of those other big-named guys of his time there. It was really cool.”

So to steal a famous line from “The Rock,” and channeling it toward the new merchandise line, “Can you smell what ‘Rec Spec’ is cooking?’

Perhaps it’s merely a matter of time before “The Rock” is wearing Blankenship stuff? The kicker laughs again.

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Blankenship said. “We’ll see. Maybe another step to climb to get to him with that. That would be awesome.”

(Phillip B. Wilson has covered the Indianapolis Colts for more than two decades and authored the 2013 book 100 Things Colts Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. He’s on Twitter @pwilson24, on Facebook at @allcoltswithphilb and @100thingscoltsfans, and his email is