Fightful: You can't even cite that in a college report. One time, I saw, I went to go check the card of a WWE event, and it said that Orel Hershiser defeated Roman Reigns, and I was like, well, okay.
Swagger: "Well we all know that Orel can throw a punch, you know. We've seen it."
WIKI: It has you listed at 6'7", 275. Often these numbers are inflated in pro wrestling. Where do you stand in regards to those numbers.
Swagger: Fact "See, I always felt like my numbers were the only ones that weren't inflated. I always had to go by my real numbers."
Fightful: That's exactly what a pro wrestler would say.
Swagger: (Maybe) "Alright. Because I like you, Sean, I'm 6'5" without wrestling boots on and I am 275. I fluctuate though, I might be 260, 265, you know. Depending if it's Thanksgiving or not."
Fightful: Guarantee if I have Sheamus on here he'll be like oh, I'm 6'4". Yeah, I bet you are, Sheamus. I bet you are.
Swagger: "Come on, fella. That's The Bar you're talking about."
WIKI: It says you started wrestling at five years old.
Swagger: (True) "That is a fact. It might have been four. We moved to Oklahoma when I was four, and my older cousins, who were a lot older than me, were in high school at the time and were very good high school wrestlers, so they gave me the bug. And then we just kind of luckily moved to Perry, Oklahoma, where they had a great youth kids' program, and of course the storied high school program. So lucky me."
WIKI: You wrestled in high school with Danny Hodge's grandson.
Swagger: (True) "Yes, sir. Danny Hodge lived ... two blocks from me? You know, this is Perry, Oklahoma, roughly four thousand people, five thousand people. You know. Both his grandsons, actually. One was a lot older than us, he was like a senior when we were freshman, but his youngest one, we're the same age."
Fightful: So what age did you become cognizant of who Danny Hodge really was, in the grand scope of things?
Swagger: "In Oklahoma, you had, you know, a couple names that you grew up with, a lot of greats like Brian Switzer, Brian Bosworth, Dr. Death Steve WIlliams was a big household name in Oklahoma, and then Danny Hodge was a household name in Oklahoma. But to really understand his accomplishments, it wasn't til I was in college, I was a freshman and we were doing some kind of English class. Not like the ones they teach at North Carolina. I did a report on Danny and I really got to know all this stuff. It was very cool. It wasn't really until then that my eyes opened, like how much he really did. And if he did that in today's world, what a rich man he would be."
Fightful: I would imagine that as your pro wrestling career went on, too, you would learn a little bit more. I get the feeling that like, Jim Ross was sending you the heart eye emojis whenever he found out your connection to the Danny Hodge family because he's spoken to me about his affection for Hodge.
Swagger: "Yeah, yeah. And I mean, you know, he reminds me a lot of The Rock. He's just a really great guy, just super nice, and would do anything for you. And that's probably why he has his success, that's why he has people who care about him so much."
WIKI: It says that you were a class president as a sophomore and a junior.
Swagger: (True) "Yep, yep. And as a senior, but maybe ..."
Fightful: I was going to ask, who unseated you as a senior? It just says sophomore and junior.
Swagger: "Well, I may have been elected as a senior and then a certain celebratory after wrestling season led to a suspension and dethroning."
Fightful: What'd you do?!
Swagger: "I didn't do anything, bro! I don't know what you're talking about."
Fightful: You did something.
Swagger: "I did nothing. You know. Young high school stuff. I don't think I ran my senior year because someone told me that I would have to be responsible for the class reunions, and I was like, yeah."
WIKI: You stopped playing football as a college sophomore to focus on wrestling.
Swagger: (True) "Yep, yep. It was my red shirt freshman year. We just won the Rose Bowl against Washington State, '02, and then during the Christmas break, wrestling coach called me and said their heavyweight was academically ineligible. I was Academic All-Big 12, so they're like, hey, you want to come wrestle for us? It's like, sure! So I wrestled the rest of the season, got my butt kicked. I went like 2 and 7. I wasn't anywhere near wrestling shape, and then I did spring ball with the Sooners, and then did one season were I played football and wrestled because the heavyweight came back and he beat me for the spot, so he was number one in the fall one year, but I did football as well. And then next two years I was the man."
Fightful: I was going to say, football and wrestling, it would be, I would imagine, a huge time suck.
Swagger: "Oh man, yeah. D1 football is a full time job. It really is. They should definitely get paid for what they have to do."
Fightful: I was going to ask where you stood on that. I did a story on Kenneth Faried, who now plays for the Denver Nuggets. We went to college together, and I was just baffled at how little time he had as a basketball player. Keep in mind, before he showed up and after he showed up, it was a ghost town in that arena. Like, ghost town. But when he's there, there are people there. There are people in the seats, in the stands. Football much the same way. You don't see a lot of these top programs with empty seats, empty bleachers, anything like that. Do you have any certain suggestion how they should go about getting paid?
Swagger: "Well, it's really cool that you mention that, because I went to OU in 2001 the year after they won the national title for the first time in, what, sixteen years? And so the '90s were a rough period for the football team there. As soon as they won the national championship, you could just see the influx of money coming in where they're starting to renovate gymnasiums and buildings, like I think my class was the highest enrollment in, you know, thirty years after they won the national championship. So there's so much money going into those players, into that program, you know? Not all college sports are like that. Football, basketball, they're money sports. And they end up paying for the other programs, which, you want the other programs to be funded as well because they're just as important even though they don't make the money.
"I read somewhere, I think I read a book called 'The Cartel' by Taylor Branch about the NCAA and it was very interesting. It was only like ninety pages, but they were breaking down some numbers of how if you broke down like, an average head coaching salary, it could afford to pay each player on the 119-man roster $175,000 for the season. You know, those numbers are off the ... what I remember. But it's something like that. I was just blown away by it. It was like, wow. There's nothing more than that. But you know, when there's that much money involved, there's going to be a hard time to change anything."
Fightful: Very true.
WIKI: You graduated with a Bachelor's degree in finance.
Swagger: (True) "True."
WIKI: And after graduation, you were going to work with a firm in Dallas, but signed with WWE after they offered a contract the day you were scheduled to start with that firm.
Swagger: (True) "True as well. I was supposed to show up, and they got a phone call from me instead."
Fightful: So how did they react to that?
Swagger: "They were like oh, okay. We were looking for you, and you weren't there."
Fightful: I get the feeling that's not the kind of reason they're given for not showing up at work very often. Hey, brb, I'm going to go wrestle for the WWE, see you later.
Swagger: "Yeah, you know, it was kind of Kenny Powers, I'm at the bar, get me paid. But I would never call someone a bitch, never call someone that."
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