Roman Reigns Had A Whirlwind NFL Career Before Making It Big In WWE

Roman Reigns holding up both world titles after beating Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania

Although Roman Reigns hails from the famous Anoa’i Samoan wrestling dynasty, his initial career goals were a world away from the squared circle. While an induction into the family business may have seemed a formality, Reigns had other ideas.

Long before he became Roman Reigns, Joseph Anoa’i starred as a football player in high school and into college. The defensive tackle was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Pensacola News Journal while in high school, and became a team captain in his senior year in college. Here he also played alongside former Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson.

Roman Reigns Was Signed To The Minnesota Vikings

After finishing college Anoa’i declared for the 2007 NFL Draft but went undrafted. However, he was later picked up by the Minnesota Vikings. The same franchise with which Brock Lesnar attempted to launch his own NFL career just a couple of years earlier.

However, just as it appeared the star’s career was on the up he failed a physical, after being diagnosed with leukaemia. Despite this, the would-be star was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars, only to be let go on the eve of the 2007 NFL season. From here, he headed north to the Canadian Football League, following in the footsteps of his cousin Dwayne Johnson. However, Anoa’i enjoyed more success than the WWE legend, making five appearances for the Edmonton Eskimos.

After one season, he was released by the Eskimos and ended his football career. The future World Champion then turned to professional wrestling and signed with WWE in 2010, debuting on the main roster at Survivor Series 2012.

Following a blockbuster run as part of The Shield, Reigns eventually found success as a singles performer, although he wasn’t always beloved by the WWE audience. That all changed in 2020 as Roman Reigns became the Tribal Chief and embarked on one of the most dominant runs in modern WWE history. Heading into Survivor Series Reigns has held the Universal Championship for well over 800 days and stands at the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion.