Exclusive interview: Goldberg talks about playing for the Super Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons
You’ve heard about Goldberg’s remarkable undefeated streak. You know he dominated Brock Lesnar in less than two minutes at Survivor Series. What you might not be aware of, however, is that the iconic Superstar also played for the Super Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons before he ever entered the squared circle.
The 6-foot-4, 285-pound powerhouse spent three seasons (1992-1994) with “The Dirty Birds” as a defensive tackle and nose guard. So, you can imagine how excited and enthusiastic he is to see his former squad compete against the New England Patriots in this Sunday’s Super Bowl LI in Houston.
As excitement builds for the big game, Goldberg spoke exclusively with WWE.com about his love for the sport, how his teammates gave him the “coolest moment” of his ring career and what’s on the menu at his Super Bowl party.
WWE.COM: You were drafted by the Rams in 1990. Do you recall what it felt like when you heard you’d made it to the NFL?
GOLDBERG: It was a dream come true. The only thing I ever aspired to be was a professional football player; I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps. I wanted to be somebody that people could look up to and kids could call a superhero, man. I wanted to be the best at what I did, and football was my thing, always.
WWE.COM: It’s interesting to hear you say that. It feels like you’ve certainly achieved that through sports-entertainment.
GOLDBERG: Man, I could talk with you for 20 hours about that statement right there. To encapsulate it, I was practically born with a football helmet on. I went to all my brother’s games. As a child, [football] was all I knew. Everything I did was toward that ultimate goal, to get that opportunity [in the NFL]. It was an indescribable feeling to accomplish a goal like that. I just wish I could’ve retired as a 15-year All-Pro. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to play as long as I did and, at the end of the day, to play with the Falcons. Those are some great guys, great memories.
WWE.COM: When you look back, how do you remember your time with the Falcons?
GOLDBERG: My football career in a short synopsis was that I had to fight to stay afloat. I was smaller, so I had to be tenacious. I had to be smarter than the next guy. I had to try harder, be the first guy to show up, you know? I had to do everything right. It was a tough journey just to get that opportunity, but I gotta say something about the Falcons ’cause everybody always asks me what the coolest wrestling moment of my life was, and, obviously, 99.9 percent of the people think I’m gonna say beating [Hulk] Hogan in the Georgia Dome. That’s true, but not for the reasons they probably believe. Now, it’s true, putting 44,000 people with four days’ notice in the Georgia Dome was pretty cool, and to be able to wrestle Hogan six months into the business was cool, but the coolest thing for me was after I won and after we went off the air, The nWo was beating me down, and they handcuffed me to the corner. And then, who came out from the back to save me but 15 to 20 of my [Falcons] teammates.
WWE.COM: Sounds like quite a moment for you.
GOLDBERG: It was. I had aspired my entire life to be these guys — the Jessie Tuggles, the Chris Dolemans, the Shane Dronetts, the Chuck Smiths, the Jamal Andersons. These guys were All-Pros, the best at their craft. I practiced with them, I bled with them, I cried with them, I sweat with them, but I was never good enough to be them, you know? But at that one moment, the look on their faces and the enthusiasm that they had, they wanted to be me. It was really one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not trying to be “that guy” about it, like I said, I struggled my entire life to be them, but then all they wanted was to be where I was at that moment. I was like, “Huh? There’s something really weird about this.” That’s it, that’s the coolest moment of my wrestling career because it’s got football in it, too.
WWE.COM: What do you miss most about playing football?
GOLDBERG: [Laughs] Banging peoples’ heads. Dominating people. Smashing a running back. That’s what I miss. I miss the camaraderie, too, the locker room, the smell of the grass. Man, I miss every single thing about it, except for running, except for meetings, except for the stuff that traditionally is not too much fun. I do miss it terribly.
WWE.COM: Do you have any traditions for the Super Bowl?
GOLDBERG: My dad used to take my brother and I. We must have gone to at least 10 Super Bowls together. And it didn’t matter who played, it was just a family tradition that I’d like to do with my son. One cool story was that they took me for so many years, and the first time I was able to repay them was when the Falcons went to the Super Bowl in 1999. Rankin Smith, owner of the Falcons at the time, even sent an assistant to summon me up to their box to come and hang out with their kids, [who were fans], during the game. Whereas, I was playing for his team for three years, and they didn’t know who the hell I was back then. But it’s all good, man.
WWE.COM: So, what’s the Goldberg house like on Super Bowl Sunday? Are you inviting people over, or do you prefer to watch the game alone?
GOLDBERG: Don’t get me wrong, man, my family lives on 30 acres to get privacy. I like to be by myself when I’m not on national TV. We’ll have the smoker goin’, we’ll have the grill goin’. It’s serious. We actually do have food traditions.
WWE.COM: What’s on the menu?
GOLDBERG: Stone crabs, and we’re gonna smoke a bologna, and we’re gonna smoke some ribs. We’re gonna smoke a turkey breast. Probably do some hush puppies, stuff like that. Maybe a Budweiser in between.
WWE.COM: So let’s hear it. What’s your prediction?
GOLDBERG: At the end of the day, I played for the Falcons, I want the Falcons to win. If they’re gonna have a good shot, it’s this year. They’re a hot team, but on the other side of the ball are the New England Patriots [laughs]. But really, I just want a good game. I just want it to be entertaining.