It seems there’s no free agent in the sporting world with more untapped potential and wide ranging interest than newly crowned Olympian Gable Steveson. The 6’, 260 lb wrestler out of the University of Minnesota earned his first D1 national championship in 2021 on his way to competing at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, where he scored a stunning comeback victory over Georgia’s Geno Petriashvili to take home the gold medal.
Still just 21 years old and with a year of collegiate eligibility remaining, questions abound as to just what Steveson might do next. The wrestling phenom has even helped stir up a few rumors himself, with a couple notable shout-outs on social media.
But, while both the WWE and the UFC would no doubt love to invest in the start of Steveson’s sports-entertainment career, it sounds like the reality is more likely going to be on the gridiron. Steveson has reportedly spent some time practicing with the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team, garnering some interest from the NFL along the way.
“I’ve considered playing football,” Steveson said on the Pardon My Take podcast recently (transcript via Twin Cities Pioneer Press). “I actually talked to Coach (P.J.) Fleck of Gopher football and he wanted me to come out before I went to the Olympic Games to come play for a little bit, but I told him after the Olympic Games I will give him an official decision.”
“I would hope one day I can get a tryout with the NFL,” he added. “There are some teams that have came and have mentioned me to some agents, and stuff that have sparked interest in me. It would be cool to go out there and play football and be in the NFL for a little bit.”
Speaking on a recent episode of the Pat McAfee Show, Steveson gave a little more insight into his interest in all three avenues, be it the mixed martial arts, pro-wrestling, or a football career.
“We’ll start with Dana [White],” Steveson explained when asked about his potential career paths. “He gave us congratulations on Instagram DMs, so I’m assuming he’s gonna holla and say, ‘What’s up!?’ eventually.
“Vince McMahon? I have not met Vince McMahon personally. HHH has always been the one I’ve talked to. And you guys know Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar; I know Ric Flair and a few others. So, HHH is always the one that has hit me up.
“NFL? Vikings gave me a little tweet,” Steveson continued. “Brock Lesnar played at the Vikings, so why wouldn’t they give me a shot, you know what I’m saying? It repeats itself. Greatness comes—or it comes and goes.
“I actually went to go for football practice with [Gophers] Coach PJ Fleck. He told me, ‘Strap the pads up and let’s go.’ You know, we’re gonna row the boat ‘til we die, you feel me? And while I was there, a Buffalo Bills scout was there. He said, ‘Hey!’ I knew the head coach of the Bills loved wrestling, because he likes the determination, the heart it takes...”
“Oh, I’m gonna weigh out all my options. I’m gonna take the best option, what’s best for me. At the end of the day, I’m trying to live a comfortable lifestyle. I’m trying to keep my feet up and do my work. So, whoever’s gonna put the best on the table for Gable is gonna get Gable at his best. That’s all I can do.”
If I was y’all I would bet on the NFL https://t.co/HC6sL1xzVC— Gable Steveson (@GableSteveson) August 10, 2021
MMA fans can still take heart, however, even if the UFC isn’t the first choice out there for Steveson. Mixed martial arts has provided a late career fallback for many athletes in the past, and NFL careers can be notably short. If the Olympian doesn’t find the success he’s looking for in football, there’s nothing to say he might not come back around to the UFC in a few years time.