NFL Players Who Wrestled

“I would have all of my Offensive Lineman wrestle if I could.”
– John Madden, Hall of Fame Football Coach


“Well-respected by coaches and teammates for his tough, aggressive nature (comes from his prep wrestling background)”
– NFL Draft Scout on Alex Stepanovich


“One of the messages Denney hopes to relay to the Valley high school coaches and athletes is that wrestling is the perfect complement to football. While football is in its offseason, wrestling provides the perfect opportunity for the athletes to remain active, while working on their agility and conditioning, Denney said.

Shawhan can attest to Denney’s theory, also having an extensive gridiron background. Along with playing semi-pro football, Shawhan also has years of being an assistant football coach throughout the Rio Grande Valley (Mission High, Harlingen High, PSJA High, McAllen Memorial and McHi).

“In Texas, everyone knows that high school football is king,” Denney said. “I’m telling you, though, Texas is catching up in wrestling. And a lot of the football coaches are realizing how much wrestling can help their football team. And believe me, that’s the truth. I know it firsthand. You have to remember when I started out I was a football coach in high school, and I would go to the wrestling team and get everyone that could to sign up for my football team.”

– By Wade Baker,The McAllen Monitor MCAllen, Texas.


“My football coach told me, ‘You better get in wrestling or I’ll beat you up,'”
— Tim Lee, Texas High School All-American

Lee said that wrestling helps him on the football field because he knows he has to stay low.

“In wrestling, you’ve got to have self-discipline and self-motivation. As a lineman, it’s the same thing … me vs. you. He brings that mentality to the football field.”
– Lee’s High School Football Coach, Tim Howard


“Some of Matt Roth’s intensity can also be attributed to his successful run as a state-champion wrestler in high school. Many coaches, scouts and wrestlers-turned-football-players will laud wrestling for the leverage and quick hands it provides for football. Roth credits wrestling for the never-say-die attitude it gave him.

“It’s the attitude. (Wrestling) helps you with your hips, your hands and your balance, but more than anything it helps you with your attitude,” he said. “A lot of these kids that are basketball players, we eat those kids up. It’s just our mentality – you’re going to get the job done and you’re going to punish them.”

Roth said his dream partner on the wrestling mat would be Ravens LB Ray Lewis, himself an accomplished high school wrestler.”

— By Chris Neubauer, Pro Football Weekly

Shane Olivea
Alex Stepanovich
Nick Leckey – TX State Champ
Gregory Walker – State Finalist
Jonathan Condo
Zachary Wilson
Chris Laskowski
Luis Castillo, DT, San Diego Chargers (First Round Pick)
Lincoln “Drew” Hodgdon, C, Houston Texans – CA State Champ
Nick Hardwick
Fred Weary, C, Houston Texans – AL State Champ
Coy Wire, SS, Buffalo Bills – PA State Champ
Kevin Breedlove – SC State Finalist
Kevin Sampson – NJ State Champ
Benjamin Claxton – GA State Finalist
Trevor Johnson
Clinton “C.J.” Brooks, Jr.
Tai Tupai
Leon Robinson – GA State Runner-Up
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons – 2x SC State Champ (First Round Pick)
Eric Ghiaciuc, C, Cincinatti Bengals – MI State Champ
Joey Hildbold
Adam Seward, ILB, Carolina Panthers – NV State Champ
Cody Johnson
Rodney Michael
Marques Harris – CO State Champ
Larry Turner
Andrew “Tyler” Lenda – District Champ
Tim Anderson – OH State Champ
Tony Pape
Matt Roth – IA State Champ
Mike Patterson, DT, Philadelphia Eagles (First Round Pick)
David Pollack
Tim Burrough – OK State Champ
Antoineo Harris – IL State Champ
Claude Harriott
Scott Wells – TN State Champ
Alex Lewis – District Champ
Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins (#2 Pick)
Rodney Leisle
Nick Newton
Sean Tufts
Brian Save
Kevin Atkins
Josh Minkins – District Runner-up
Tim Euhus
Andrew Tidwell-Neal – MN State Champ
Renaldo Works
Patrick “Bucky” Babcock – IL State Champ
Morgan Pears
Art Baker, RB, Buffalo Bills
Rhonde Barber, SS, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tiki Barber, RB, New York Giants
Walter Barnes, DL, Washington Redskins – SEC Champ
Eric Bateman, OL, New York Jets
Harris Benton
Brad Benson, New York Giants – PA State Champ
Greg Boone, RB, Oakland Raiders
Jeff Bostic*, C, Washington Redskins – SC State Champ
Tedy Bruschi*, ILB, New England Patriots
Bob Bruenig*, LB, Dallas Cowboys
Phil Bryant, Philadelphia Eagles – 2x National Prep Champ
Ralph Cindrich, Houston Oilers – PA State Runner-Up
Jonathan Condo, LS, Dallas Cowboys – PA State Champ, Dapper Dan Champ
Tom Cousineau*, LB, Cleveland Browns – 3rd State
Tom Covert*, OT, Chicago Bears
Chris Cooley, WR, Washington Redskins
Roger Craig*, RB, San Francisco 49’ers
Damien Covington, LB, Buffalo Bills
Curley Culp*, DL, Kansas City Chiefs – NCAA Champ
Larry Czonka**, RB, Miami Dolphins

Hall of Fame Running Back from the 
Miami Dolphins, Larry Czonka, 
pounded opponents on the wrestling 
mat as well as the gridiron.

Rob Davis, ST, Green Bay Packers Dan Dierdorff**, OT, St. Louis Cardinals Donnie Edwards, OLB, San Diego Chargers Carl Edwards, San Diego Chargers – 3x MD State Champ Rob Essink, Seattle Seahawks – NCAA DII Champ Jim Everett, QB, New Orleans Saints DeMarco Farr, St. Louis Rams Patrick Flannery, OL, Houston Oilers Ed Flanagan, C, Detroit Lions Terrell Fletcher, RB, San Diego Chargers Bill Fralic*, G, Atlanta Falcons Doug France*, LT, Los Angeles Rams – OH State Runner-Up Frank Garcia, C, St. Louis Rams – 2x AZ State Champ William George, Chicago Bears – 2x PA State Champ Charlie Getty, RG, Kansas City Chiefs – 2x NCAA All-American John Gilmore, TE, Chicago Bears Kevin Glover*, C, Detroit Lions La’Roi Glover*, DE, Dallas Cowboys Mike Goff, G, Cincinnati Bengals Bob Golic*, DT, Cleveland Browns – OH State Champ Mike Golic, DE, Philadelphia Eagles Darien Gordon, PR/CB, Denver Broncos Scottie Graham, RB, Minnesota Vikings Tim Green, DE, Atlanta Falcons Kelly Gregg, NT, Baltimore Ravens, 3x KS State Champ Morlon Greenwood, OLB, Miami Dolphins Archie Griffin, HB, Cincinnati Bengals Nick Griesen, LB, New York Giants Randy Grossman, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers John Hannah**, G, New England Patriots John Hartunian Carlton Haselrig*, Pittsburgh Steelers, 3x NCAA Champ Ron Heller, TE, Seattle Seahawks Chad Hennings, DT, Dallas Cowboys – IA State Champ Jay Hilgenberg*, C, Chicago Bears – IA State Runner-Up Orlando Huff, MLB, Seattle Seahawks Corey Hulsy, G, Oakland Raiders Bo Jackson*, RB, Oakland Raiders Mario Johnson, DT, New England Patriots Dahanie Jones, LB, New York Giants Henry Jordan**, DT, Green Bay Packers Dave Joyner, OL, Green Bay Packers John Jurkovich*, DT, Cleveland Browns Alex Karras, Detroit Lions Tim Krumrie*, DL, Cincinnati Bengals – WI State Champ Ernie Ladd, DL, Kansas City Chiefs Nick Lecky, C, – KS State Champ (in 2004 NFL Draft) Jess Lewis, LB, Houston Oilers

Ray Lewis, Pro Bowl Linebacker 
for the Baltimore Ravens, was
a Florida 4A State Wrestling
Champion at 189 lbs.

Ray Lewis*, Baltimore Ravens – 2x FL State Champ Ronnie Lott**, DB, San Francisco 49’ers Kirk Lowdermilk*, OL, Minnesota Vikings Sean Mahan, G, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Malczyk, LS, New York Giants Joel Mackavicka, RB, Seattle Seahawks Steve Martin, DT, Houston Texans Mickey Marvin, RG, Oakland Raiders Napolean McCallum, RB, Oakland Raiders Randle McDaniel*, G, Minnesota Vikings Mark McDonald, SS, Arizona Cardinals Chris McIntosh, T, Seattle Seahawks Bryant McKinnie, T. Minnesota Vikings

Future Hall of Famer Randall
McDaniel was a wrestler 
before he was named to 12 
NFL Pro Bowls.

Greg Meisner, DL, Los Angeles Rams Matt Millen*, LB, Oakland Raiders Ronald Moore, RB, Cleveland Browns James Mungro, HB, Indianapolis Colts Jim Nance, FB, New England Patriots – NCAA Champ Lorenzo Neal, FB, Tennessee Titans – NCAA Champ Stephen Neal, OL, New England Patriots – NCAA Champ Jeremy Newberry, C, San Francisco 49’ers Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers – PA State Champ Leo Nomellini*, T, San Francisco 49’ers – Big 10 Champ Jonathan Ogden*, OT, Baltimore Ravens Irv Pankey, Los Angeles Rams – 2x MD State Champ David Patten, WR, New England Patriots Scott Peters, G, New York Giants Bob Pickens, OL, Chicago Bears Jim Plunkett*, QB, Oakland Raiders Dave Porter, T, Green Bay Packers Mike Pyle, C, Chicago Bears – IA State Champ Rocky Rasley, G, Detroit Lions Mike Reid, Cincinnati Bengals Eric Rhett, RB, Cleveland Browns – FL State Champ Willie Roaf*, OT, New Orleans Saints Warren Sapp*, DT Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FL State Champ Mark Schlereth*, OL, Washington Redskins – Alaska State Champ Cory Schlesinger, LB, Detroit Lions – NE State Champ Steve Sefter, DT, Philadelphia Eagles, 2x PA State Champ & NCAA All-American Tony Siragusa*, DT, Baltimore Ravens – NJ State Champ

Pro Bowl Defensive Tackle
Warren Sapp was a Florida
State Champion wrestler in
High School.

Fred Smerlas*, Buffalo Bills – MA State Champ Bruce Smith**, DE, Washington Redskins Brad St. Louis, TE, Cincinnati Bengals Matt Suhey, RB, Chicago Bears Bill Szott, OL, Washington Redskins – NJ State Champ Dave Szott, Kansas City Chiefs – NJ State Champ Woody Thompson, RB, Atlanta Falcons – PA State Champ Jim Thorpe**, HB, New York Giants Mike Trgovac, DC, Carolina Panthers – OH State Champ Kyle Turley*, T, St. Louis Rams Ryan Turnbull, RB, Cleveland Browns Tommy Vardell, RB, San Francisco 49’ers Adam Vinatieri*, K, New England Patriots John Ward, OL, New York Jets – NCAA All-American Fred Weary, DB, St. Louis Rams Charles White*, HB, Los Angeles Rams Randy White*, DT, Dallas Cowboys Cory Widmer, LB, New York Giants Leo Wisniewski, NT, Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts – PA State Champ Steve Wisniewski, G, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders – CA State Champ Ricky Williams*, RB, Miami Dolphins Coy Wire, LB, Buffalo Bills – PA State Runner-Up Greg Wojochowski, St. Louis Rams *Pro-Bowler **Hall of Famer

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