Former NCAA wrestling champion and WWE main event star Brock Lesnar, wearing no. 69, made his NFL preseason debut as a defensive nose tackle and special teams player on Saturday. His team, the Minnesota Vikings, played the Arizona Cardinals at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. Lesnar first came into the game early in the second quarter on the kickoff team after the Vikings scored. He charged down the field and made contact with a blocker with the Cardinals. He played on the kickoff team two other times in the first half, also. He lined up on the field goal blocking team twice also late in the first half and early in the second half.
Late in the fourth quarter, he played on the defensive line for the first time, looking good against the Cardinals’ third stringers. He didn’t record any sacks. Lesnar drew compliments from the Minnesota TV announcing crew, who praised him for being the first on the practice field, the last off, enthusiastic, “very coachable,” and holding his own during the half dozen or so defensive plays he was part of late in the fourth quarter.
After his first stint on the defensive line, he returned to the bench and got the attention of a coach. He was soon asking questions and seemed very inquisitive. He got tips on hand-work from the defensive line coach. After their discussion, the defensive line coach patted him on the shoulder and he let out a big smile.
After the game ended, he was interviewed by one TV journalist, but by no means was swarmed by members of the media. Other than a brief five second prerecorded appearance on the Metrodome big screen by Brock when he first came out to play on the defensive line where he shouted some words of encouragement to the crowd in a “pro wrestling style” promo, no attention was drawn to his presence inside the Metrodome and fans didn’t seem particularly vocal when he first entered the game. There were no chants of “Brock,” even though his trying out for the Vikings has been one of the biggest stories of training camp. There was a pop when he was part of a tackle late in the fourth quarter.
He did not make a spectacle of himself on the sideline or on the field; rather, he just blended in. He didn’t socialize much with teammates, instead spending most of the game standing on the sidelines with his helmet in his hand watching the game, which is what most other players did. He did get attention from coaches when he returned to the sidelines after most of his plays on the field, but nothing that stood out as disciplinary or complimentary, but more so just teaching.
During the radio show post-game show, he was not among four players who were part of a fan poll to recognize a new player who did the most to improve his standing on the team. The four players mentioned are higher on the depth chart and more likely to make the team and contribute. Lesnar was talked about as someone “fighting to make the practice squad.” He was complimented by the hosts on his work ethic.
It is interesting to note that Brock refuses to sign wrestling merchandise, but has no problem cutting wrestling promo’s when asked.
Credit: Wade Keller, Jason Powell (Torch Newsletter), Dan Lovranski (The LAW)