André René Roussimoff, known to the world as Andre the Giant, reportedly drew the interest of the Redskins front office who wanted to give him a tryout and possibly a contract. The tryout never happened and signing a 7'4", 520lb wrestler from France who never player American football in his life would have probably been a terrible idea from a football perspective. But it does make a hell of a story, and here it is.
Tim Temerario, the Redskins director of player personnel at the time, called the offices of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, now World Wrestling Entertainment, to inquire about the 7 feet 4 inch grappler, whose real name was André René Roussimoff.
Talks went so far as to spawn a press conference in Washington, D.C.(see Andre holding Joe Theismann in the photo to this article)that was attended by Andre and up-and-coming wrestling executive Vincent McMahon according to an article on the WWE website.(McMahon later claimed it was indeed a gimmick)
And there's also this blurb from Sports Illustrated in 1982:
According to Joe Blair, public relations director of the Redskins, there was talk about giving Andre a tryout in 1976, but it never happened. Andre told [SI's Terry] Todd that he chose not to risk his wrestling career - he was making more money than any lineman was earning at the time - by taking time off for a trial in a sport in which he had no guarantee of success and no previous experience.
Former WWF wrestler George "The Animal" Steele recounted the story about his discussions with the McMahons on a podcast with UnderScoopFire a few years ago that was transcribed by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.
"And in one of those early conversations, the Washington Redskins wanted to sign Andre the Giant to play football," Steele said. "And they wanted to sign him to play as a linebacker on field goals and extra points, to stand up and kind of wave like a giant. And it would be great publicity for them and us.
"And because I was a football coach and had played a little bit, Vince Sr. says Jim what do you think about this idea? I says I think it's absolutely ridiculous. First of all, if you take Andre the Giant - as big and strong as he is - and stuck him in front of me, with his hands in the air waving or something, I'd take his knee out.
"I said first of all, I think you're making a mockery of the game. And he's outstretched, he can't protect himself, I'd cripple him. And I said every guy in the NFL would do that. He has no business doing that. I don't know if you know that or not, but they had made the offer, and it almost went to signing, and that's why they didn't do it. Because it wasn't the right thing to do for Andre, for wrestling, and really for football."
Andre never played football for the Redskins or any other team. Instead he landed a major role in The Princess Bride in 1987 and won the WWF championship in 1988.
One thing that is for sure, Andre would have been able to outdrink anyone on the team, which would have definitely earned him some respect in those days. I have previously lived in the city this story originates from so I have heard this story recounted many times by several different people in many different bars so it must be true. Chances are I've had a drink in the bar where Andre achieved this incredible feat of consumption.
There's a story making the rounds on the Internet that Andre once drank 127 beers in one sitting and passed out in a Reading hotel bar. A few people have asked the Reading Eagle if the story is true.
It is, if you can believe another famed former wrestler. In her autobiography, Mary Lillian Ellison, a female wrestler known as "The Fabulous Moolah," gives an account in passing of Andre's adventures in Reading.
Andre was part of a regular cast of wrestlers who held monthly shows at the Hamburg Field House. They often stayed in Reading before matches.
There's no mention of which hotel or when the drinking incident occurred, but Ellison recounts that after Andre passed out, the hotel staff just draped a sheet over him because he was too large to move.