No, those words never came out of Pete Rozelle’s mouth, but you must remember that 1975 was a very different time. Bell bottoms were still in fashion. Gas cost about 40 cents a gallon. And the internet didn’t exist yet to explode rumors into news reports. Otherwise, more people would have known about the time the Washington Redskins were so desperate for help they called the WWE to inquire about the availability of a guy named André René Roussimoff.
You probably know him better as Andre the Giant.
Let that sink in if you will…a 7′ 4″, 520 pound football player. Just imagine the possibilities.
That’s what then-director of player personnel for the Washington Redskins Tim Temerario was thinking that fateful day in 1975 when he called the offices of the World Wrestling Federation now (World Wrestling Entertainment), to inquire about the gargantuan grappler.
At nearly seven and a half feet tall, he would be like trying to kick a field goal over a tree. At over a quarter of a ton, he could have been an immovable object as a defensive lineman, or a super-sized version of a “Refrigerator” Perry-type goal-line bulldozer.
Andre was skeptical at best of the idea at first, if for no other reason that his wrestling career was paying more than any NFL lineman was making at the time.
But fellow wrestler George “The Animal” Steele knew it was a terrible idea; he shed some light on the issue during a podcast with UnderScoopFire.
“…the Washington Redskins wanted to sign Andre the Giant to play football,” Steele said. “And they wanted to sign him to play as a linebacker on field goals and extra points, to stand up and kind of wave like a giant. And it would be great publicity for them and us.
“And because I was a football coach and had played a little bit, Vince Sr. says Jim what do you think about this idea? I says I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. First of all, if you take Andre the Giant — as big and strong as he is — and stuck him in front of me, with his hands in the air waving or something, I’d take his knee out.
“I said first of all, I think you’re making a mockery of the game. And he’s outstretched, he can’t protect himself, I’d cripple him. And I said every guy in the NFL would do that. He has no business doing that. I don’t know if you know that or not, but they had made the offer, and it almost went to signing, and that’s why they didn’t do it. Because it wasn’t the right thing to do for Andre, for wrestling, and really for football.”
Apparently, the talks went so far as to as to spawn a press conference Washington, D.C. by Andre and up-and-coming wrestling executive Vince McMahon. But nothing ever came of the Redskins interest in Andre the Giant, and contrary to popular belief, no tryout ever took place, and no contract was ever offered.
Besides, can you imagine what Roger Goodell would be doing now if the full body slam were a legal football move?