Phot courtesy of Sharon M. Steinman / Star-Telegram/MCT
Although four months remain until the NFL season will officially be under way, former Buckeye and current St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis is ready for the NFL and the NFL Players Association to reach an agreement so he can get back to doing what he loves.
“I don’t find anything good from being locked out from what we love to do,” Laurinaitis said. “I’m a football junkie. I’d rather be there, doing OTAs (Organized Team Activities) and all that stuff.”
The lockout has lasted more than a month, but for football fans who fear a fall without the sport, the former Ohio State three-time All-American had some encouraging words.
“I think football will happen,” Laurinaitis said. “If I had to put a percent on it, I’d probably say 95 percent.”
But if that 5 percent doubt prevails and the NFL doesn’t play in 2011, fans of another contact sport might be happy to know he would consider joining their business.
“I should take up pro wrestling. It’d be a natural transition,” Laurinaitis said. “I might have to try to get in the ring a little bit, take on John Cena or Randy Orton.”
His father, Joe, better known as “The Animal” to World Wrestling Entertainment fans, is a professional-wrestling legend and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in early April.
The younger Laurinaitis might not live up to his father’s in-ring legacy, but says it’s not out of the question that he would follow in his father’s footsteps for a short time if he can’t play football.
“I’d consider it,” Laurinaitis said. “You don’t want to mess around and get hurt. But if it’s just a few run-downs here and there or something, I’d maybe at least get some of the training done.”
Although he isn’t certain what he’ll be doing in the fall, Laurinaitis is certain of the impact the lockout will have, and he says it affects more than just the NFL and its players.
“It’s bigger than just the players and the owners,” he said. “It’s the vendors. It’s the people that turn their yards into parking lots, the bars, the restaurants, the hotels, everything around a stadium in a city that thrives from these moments. I think it hurts the overall economy if we don’t play.”
Laurinaitis says he isn’t worried about money himself, but he isn’t so sure about other guys in the league.
“I’ve saved up my money. I don’t spend my money on anything stupid. I get all my clothes usually from Nike, or I wear the stuff I’ve worn through college,” he said. “The only thing I’ve got to worry about is taking care of myself and my dogs and paying a mortgage on a house that I can easily afford and buy off if I want to.
“Usually, we wouldn’t have checks come in until about this time anyway. Guys will start hurting when you don’t get those game checks, but I think we’ll get them.”
Negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA have been moved to court, but ESPN reported that Judge Susan Richard Nelson will force the two sides to mediate this week.
Until an agreement is reached, WWE fans can hold out hope for another “Animal” to battle in the squared circle.
The WWE did not immediately return phone calls for comment.