3 pro wrestlers who flirted with Commanders throughout franchise history

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) A.J. Francis
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(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Commanders helmet /

Jim Brunzell flirted with the Commanders

Jumpin’ Jim Brunzell’s tenure with the now Washington Commanders barely lasted longer than Andre the Giant’s, who as you recall, never had any actual involvement with the team. But it made for a good story.

Brunzell was a hyper-athletic tight end at the University of Minnesota in the late 1960s. He had excellent speed at 220 pounds and enough explosion in his legs to high jump 6-foot-6. But he stood only 5-foot-10 and that was too short for the NFL.

Still, he was a good enough athlete to kick around semi-pro ball for a while. Then, when George Allen took over in Washington, that athleticism got him an invitation to a free agent tryout camp. Brunzell told this story to David Chappell of The Mid-Atlantic Gateway back in 2016.

"“I was there for three days. There was no contact and it was basically agility drills, sprints, catch the ball … blah, blah, blah. Boyd Dowler was one of the end coaches, and so was Bobby Mitchell.”"

Brunzell didn’t get a contract. He said Allen told the more-than-100 hopefuls at the beginning of the tryout that maybe one or two of them would actually get contracts. One of them did. He’d end up in the Pro Bowl a year later.

There was another guy – a running back – who blew them all away in the sprints. His name was Herb Mul-Key. He would get the contract. And in just three years in the league, he would establish himself as one of the best kick returners of the 1970s.

Things turned out all right for Brunzell. His friend Greg Gagne had some ties to the pro wrestling game. His father Verne was one of the biggest stars in the pre-Hulk Hogan era of wrestling.

Verne ran a camp for promising young athletes. Gagne got Brunzell invited to the camp, where he would team with Greg as the High Flyers and win multiple tag team championships. Then, it would be the Killer Bees with B. Brian Blair and feuds with the likes of the Hart Foundation and the Funk family.

And to close the circle on Brunzell’s NFL experience, he took part in Wrestlemania 2 in a gimmicky battle royale pitting wrestlers and NFL players against each other. He was finally competing alongside some of the elite – names like Harvey Martin, Jimbo Covert, and William “the Refrigerator” Perry.

The winner of that battle royale? Andre the Giant.