Buffalo Bills Sign Gold Medalist Gable Steveson

Can a talented wrestler make the leap to the NFL?

Gable Steveson
Gable Steveson of the Minnesota Golden Gophers defeats Cohlton Schultz of the Arizona State Sun Devils in the 285-pound final match during the Division I Men's Wrestling Championship, 2022.
ay LaPrete/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

There’s a long and storied history of football players having a foothold in other sports. Jim Thorpe is probably the first name that comes to mind, along with Bob Hayes, who spent much of his career with the Dallas Cowboys and also won two gold medals at the 1964 Olympics. Bo Jackson spent several seasons playing in both the NFL and MLB, and there have also been plenty of placekickers who relied on their soccer backgrounds while playing, well, the other kind of football.

And now, the list of football players with storied backgrounds in another sport has gotten a little bit bigger. Gable Steveson, a gold medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2020 Olympics, recently signed with the Buffalo Bills. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out, depending on how Steveson’s career and the Bills’ playoff hopes go, Steveson could be the first player since Hayes to have both a Super Bowl ring and a gold medal.

Following his storied collegiate career as a wrestler, Steveson spent several years in the WWE. As Sean Rueter noted at Cageside Seats, NXT released Steveson last month.

Steveson is aware of the challenges he’ll face in moving from one sport to another. “I have been fortunate to compete at the highest level of competition in my sport but am looking forward to the challenge of seeing how my wrestling skills may translate to football,” he told ESPN.

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Schefter reports that Steveson will likely play defensive line for his new team. It’s worth noting here that his new coach, Sean McDermott, is himself a former wrestler. It’s an unlikely move, bringing in an athlete who’s earned reknown in a very different sport — but it’s not difficult to see why the Bills took the risk.

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