With Tebow Mania taking over the swamplands it seems like all anyone can talk about is how much of a distraction the QB/TE/college analyst/baseball player/public speaker is going to become. While those people are certainly right, he won’t be the first distraction in the history of NFL camps.
ESPN recently listed five all-time NFL camp sideshows and your Minnesota Vikings came in right at the top for letting professional wrestler Brock Lesnar put on the number 69 jersey and play real football.
Kevin Siefert of ESPN noted:
No one laughed when Lesnar started telling people that he wanted to try pro football. At 26, he was eight years removed from his last high school game. But he had rare physical traits as a 286-pound professional wrestling champion who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds and had a 35-inch vertical leap. He also benched 475 pounds, squatted 695 pounds and had delivered a convincing mean streak via his WWE character.
Wearing No. 69, Lesnar appeared in preseason games as a defensive tackle and a cover man on kickoffs. His most notable moment, though, was getting involved in a series of fights with Kansas City Chiefs offensive linemen during a joint practice. At one point, Lesnar ripped the helmet off a Chiefs player and, after being sent to the sidelines, stirred nearby fans into a frenzy.
The concept of this in the scope of today’s Vikings organization seems almost alien-like. The Wilfs run things as professionally and impressively as anyone could ever want. But things were different back then. Red McCombs was stumbling around shouting “purple pride,” Mike Tice was scalping Super Bowl tickets, and Fred Smoot was captaining the most infamous boat cruise in Minnesota state history. The team itself was a sideshow. Bringing in the eccentric Lesnar seemed on brand.
Siefert‘s description of the training camp fights are almost as enticing as they are hilarious. Heres a clip.
Can you even imagine the equivalent of this happening today? You’re on your break at work so you pull out your cell phone to check for the latest Vikings news and you see a tweet from Courtney Cronin that reads “Vikings defensive-end, John Cena, just got in a scuffle with Tyreek Hill.” You’d probably have to take the rest of the day off work just to laugh about it.
With the impressive TCO Performance Center in Eagan and the button up nature of the front office it doesn’t seem like the Vikings will be bringing in any professional wrestlers into their facility anytime soon. But purple fans should take pride in topping this list. It’s as ridiculous and funny as Brock Lesnar’s haircut was. And sometimes sports need ridiculous and funny.
For good measure, here’s Nate Burleson describing the Lesnar fight.
Heres a link to the full ESPN story by Kevin Seifert: Tim Tebow won’t be the first NFL training camp sideshow: Five more, from Brock Lesnar to a Hall of Famer