It has been a great year for The Rock. Forbes named him the highest-paid actor in the world. People crowned him “sexiest man alive.” Then we have Sports Illustrated, which blares on this week’s cover that he “owns Hollywood.”
In the celebration of all that success comes stories about the man’s background, from the days when he was just Dwayne Johnson, son and grandson of pro wrestlers and an aspiring NFL player.
That SI cover story has a few tales from his days as a Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman (1991-94). One of them concerns a fight he had with teammate Kevin Patrick. Johnson recalled being so mad he tried to rip out Patrick’s tongue.
Here’s the wild story, from SI:
Johnson’s frustration at not being an impact player boiled over one day after practice, when he was heckled by his friend and fellow linemate Kevin Patrick. “I was always running hot because I wasn’t getting the playing time that I thought I deserved,” says Johnson. “The truth of the matter is Warren Sapp was just a better player, but when you’re young, you can’t see that. Me and Kevin were in a coach’s office, and he was talking s—, as always, but this time I just lost it. It was like a movie fight—the desk got turned over, stuff was flying all over the place. We spilled out onto the weight room floor, still going at it. He wouldn’t stop talking, so I decided to pull his tongue out. I stuffed my big ol’ hand into his mouth, and I had a couple of fingers around his tongue, but it was so damn slippery! I was quite serious about pulling it out, but I couldn’t quite get a hold of it. Eventually I gave up, the fight ended, and two minutes later we were hugging each other. It was so dumb.”
Patrick, who now coaches Texas Tech’s defensive line, tells a slightly different version.
“I don’t give a s— what he says,” said Patrick, a 2015 UM Sports Hall of Famer and Forest Hill High alum. “We got in a fight. There’s no doubt. We tore that place apart. But he never stuck his hand in my mouth.”
The brawl began, Patrick said, when Johnson, a year younger and two classes behind him at UM, “got lippy” in the strength coaches’ room. Known as “The Palm Beach Club,” it was “the coolest room in the building,” and a popular hangout for veteran players. So when an underclassman like Johnson upset the hierarchy, Patrick said, “he had to get in line.”
Patrick said no punches were thrown as the two crashed around in their shoulder pads. The date of the fight is unclear. Patrick wasn’t sure anyone won, but he’s certain he didn’t lose.
And he has no problem letting his former teammate know.
“I’ll still whip Dewey’s a–,” Patrick said. “I promise you that. I’ll start a little war up with his a–, Mr. Big-Time Hollywood.”
(There’s more to that quote, but look, this is a family-friendly website, and you get the idea.)
Let’s go backstage for a minute. The two don’t speak regularly, but are friendly. Patrick said he has always celebrated Johnson’s success. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person,” he said. “He’s my boy. I love him to death.”
Johnson, who parlayed his wrestling popularity into worldwide acting stardom, is known as one of Hollywood’s good guys, and an inspirational figure to his 10.6 million Twitter followers and 71.5 million Instagram devotees. Patrick told The Post another story that backs up that rep.
“He helped me get back with my wife,” said Patrick, 45. “He doesn’t know that.”
In Jan. 2000, Patrick, then a young assistant coach at USF, had broken up with his then-girlfriend, Rachel. He realized his error, and tried to win her back. He took her to Dadeland Mall, near UM’s campus, for a shopping trip.
They ran into The Rock, who was wrestling at AmericanAirlines Arena that night.
Johnson, one of the biggest stars in the WWF (now WWE), greeted him with, “Hey KP,” and as they caught up, asked if he wanted to go to the show.
“He looked at her and said, ‘Do you want to go too?'” Patrick said.
“She was shocked as hell. It was The Rock. Everyone was amazed that I knew The Rock.”
They had a good time at the show — WrestlingData.com shows The Rock beat three members of D-Generation X in a handicap match — made up, and married the following year. They have two daughters, Grace and Belle, both of whom hope to be college volleyball players.
“She was ready to go back home,” Patrick said. “If he wasn’t there that day, and gave us front-row tickets, I don’t know what would have happened.”
Since the publication of the SI story on Wednesday, Patrick reports a steady stream of emails, texts and social media messages. He said the writer (Alan Shipnuck) called him for the story, but he was busy and didn’t return the call. He would have enjoyed the chance to clear up any misconceptions about that fight.
“Did I whip his a–? I don’t think it got that far,” Patrick said. “Did he whip my a–? Definitely not.”