New England Patriots guard Stephen Neal took an unusual route to the NFL: Neal didn't play football at all in college, but he was a very good wrestler, winning the NCAA heavyweight title his senior year. The Patriots recognized his great athleticism and offered him a tryout in training camp, and now he's got three Super Bowl rings.
As for the guy Neal beat in the NCAA heavyweight wrestling final? That would be UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
Neal and Lesnar told the Boston Herald what they remember about each other:
"He was just this big, strong, powerful man the wrestling world hadn't seen," Neal said. "He was so big and strong, you didn't want to make a mistake against him."
Lesnar returned the compliment. "The kind of athlete Stephen was, we were men amongst boys," he said.
Lesnar was a junior when he lost to Neal, and he won the NCAA title the next year. He then went on to pro wrestling before taking up MMA. Neal thinks Lesnar could have succeeded in the NFL, and Lesnar thinks Neal could be a great MMA fighter.
Patriots' Stephen Neal Recalls Wrestling UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Wed, 19 Nov 2008 11:55:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.