One-Time NFL Hopeful Kurt Angle: ‘Would Have Gotten Knocked On My Ass’ By Ray Lewis

Before his historic Olympic gold medal and before his professional wrestling career took off, WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle tried to play in the NFL.

A Pittsburgh native, Angle tried out for the Steelers in 1994 as a fullback after graduating from Clarion University (Pa.) in 1992.

“I wasn’t having a lot of success in wrestling at the time. I wasn’t able to make the Olympic team. This was like in 1992, ’93, ’94,” Angle said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 12. “The Steelers were interested because they [had] signed a guy recently named Carlton Haselrig. Carlton Haselrig never played football a day in his life. He was a wrestler from Pitt-Johnstown University, a small Division II school.”

Haselrig was drafted in the 12th round by the Steelers in the 1990 NFL Draft. Haselrig was a guard for four seasons with the Steelers (1990-1993) and one season with the New York Jets (1995). Haselrig made the Pro Bowl during the 1992 season.

Angle said the Steelers had interest in him because of Haselrig’s successful transition in the NFL. However, Angle’s NFL tryout wasn’t so successful. Angle never played a down in a regular-season game for the Steelers.

“The difference between Carlton and myself was Carlton was not at a skill position. He was a lineman,” Angle said. “I tried out at a skill position. If you don’t do that in college, then there’s no chance you’re going to make it in the NFL.”

If his career in the NFL had turned out, Angle would have gone up against many hard-hitting defenders, like Pro Football Hall of Famer and Ravens legend Ray Lewis, who was drafted in 1996 by Baltimore.

“I would have gotten knocked on my ass,” Angle said. “Ray Lewis was one tough SOB.”

After his tryout in the NFL, Angle returned to his old roots in wrestling. In the 1996 Atlanta Games, Angle did the unthinkable and won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling (100 kg class) with a broken neck.

In 1999, Angle joined what is now known as the WWE and went on to enjoy a storied career. Angle was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2017. He was general manager of “WWE Raw” from 2017-2018. Angle’s final match came in 2019 against Baron “The Lone Wolf” Corbin, one he ultimately lost.

Angle, 52, has enjoyed retirement. Amid rumors of a comeback, Angle says he “is pretty much done.”

“I have a good job now. I have my podcast and I also have a supplement company that I’ve been running for the past eight years,” Angle said. “I’m staying busy — not as busy as I’d like to, but it’s enough for me right now.”

Angle will be attending Baltimore Celebfest 2 at the Benfield Sportscenter in Millersville, Md., on Oct. 16. Celebfest 2 is an event for wrestling fans to meet and greet professional and former professional wrestlers like Angle. Other wrestlers like the Briscoes, Tessa Blanchard, Wendi Richter and Nick Gage will also be attending.

For tickets, click here. For information on autographs, click here.

For more from Angle, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Kurt Angle