The Rock is one the biggest movie stars in the world. But before the A-list super-stardom and even before his WWE debut, Dwayne Johnson was a jack-of-all trades defensive lineman for the Miami Hurricanes in the early 1990s.
In 1991, Johnson played as a freshman and established himself. He nearly started that year, and things looked promising for his sophomore year.
That was, until Warren Sapp came and took his job.
“I went down and sat in the D-lineman room,” Sapp recalls, “and Dewey [Johnson’s UM nickname] walks in and says, ‘What are you doing here?’ I looked at him and said, ‘I’m here for your job, b---h.’”
Sapp originally came to Miami as a tight end, then switched positions. Apparently, it didn’t take long for Sapp to establish himself at The Rock’s expense.
“Like true defensive linemen would do, full of ego, especially down at Miami because we all talked trash, I said ’Well, you ain’t taking my spot,’” Johnson told Patrick ”Then about six months later, he took my spot.”
The Rock suffered some injuries and ended up flaming out of a shot at the CFL, but there aren’t hard feelings here between the two.
They did a roundtable Q&A for ESPN a few years ago, and it was pretty chummy. The Rock goes so far as to credit Sapp with his deviation from his NFL dream.
Rock: Yeah, the thing was, I had the greatest D-lineman in the history of the game playing in front of me. No. 99, No. 1 in your heart. I gotta tell you this: People are always asking me if I regret not making it to the NFL because of my injuries at Miami. Let me be clear: It had nothing to do with my injuries. I didn’t make it to the NFL because of one man. That’s Warren Sapp. Hands down. There’s a reason why I’m here right now, and it’s because of the grace of God, because you’re the best at what you do. And because you came in and said, “You go sit on the sidelines real quick, and I’m going out there to kick some ass.”
Sapp: No doubt about it. When we left college, you and I lost touch for a little while. But I got a brotha who was watching wrestling all the time. One day, he’s like, “You played with ‘The Rock,’ right? I’m like, “Man, I don’t know no damn ‘Rock.’ Then I’m watching and I see you talking about “candy-ass” this and that. And I’m like, are you kidding me?! Who is this man?! It was the craziest two weeks of my life watching you.
The Rock went into wrestling and eventually found himself one of the most famous actors in the world.
Sapp reportedly almost wrestled The Rock at a recent Wrestlemania.