Off the Mat

August 15, 2004

Traded His fake sport for a real one, former WWE champion and fledgling defensive tackle Brock Lesnar, 27. The 6'3" 285-pounder, who had not played football since high school in Webster, S.Dak., reported to Vikings training camp on Aug. 1. He began his first week focusing on such basics as the three-point stance and ended it by nearly starting a battle royal when he hit Chiefs quarterback Damon Huard during a light-contact scrimmage drill. “It’s just playing football,” says Lesnar, who says he was pushed into Huard.

Lesnar had passed on the opportunity to play football after he won the 2000 NCAA heavyweight wrestling championship at Minnesota. He was offered a tryout with the Buccaneers but chose pro wrestling. He quickly became a well-paid star, but he’d spend his fall Sundays watching football in the locker room with his fellow wrestlers (one of whom would often be on the business end of Lesnar’s patented F-5 finishing move a few hours later). “I just didn’t want to be one of those guys looking back when I was 50 years old, thinking that I passed up an opportunity,” he says. So this March, Lesnar, sounding almost like a little boy, declared that he wanted to play for his favorite team, the Vikings. After two impressive workouts, he earned himself a purple jersey, a playbook and a dorm room at training camp in Mankato, Minn. His coaches say he has already exceeded expectations, but Lesnar knows his best-case scenario is winning a practice-squad job--which pays $74,000 a year, a far cry from the seven-figure salary he made in tights--and then being sent to play in NFL Europe in the spring. “I’m still here after a week,” says Lesnar. “We’ll see how this week goes, and the weeks to come.” --Bill Syken

COLOR PHOTOJOHN BARRETT/GLOBE PHOTOS (LESNAR WRESTLING) HOLDS BARREDLesnar left wrestling but says he may return some day. COLOR PHOTOTOM DAHLIN/WIREIMAGE.COM (LESNAR AT CAMP) HOLDS BARREDLesnar left wrestling but says he may return some day.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)