From the football field to the squared circle

Morkeith Brown has a criminal justice degree and is pursuing a career in professional wrestling.

After finishing a season with the Philadelphia Soul, Morkeith Brown went to Orlando to train at the WWE Performance Center. | Paul Klein TTN FILE PHOTO
After finishing a season with the Philadelphia Soul, Morkeith Brown went to Orlando to train at the WWE Performance Center. | Paul Klein TTN FILE PHOTO

Morkeith Brown wants to be a Secret Service agent.

He’s had a number of jobs already, including U.S. Army mechanic, forklift driver and Arena Football League defensive end. He’s currently training to become a professional wrestler. But the former Temple defensive end, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in criminal justice, wants to work in Washington someday.

“There’s not much, I don’t think, I can do except apply like everybody else does and wait to hear back,” Brown said when asked how he would get such a job. “Make sure I keep up with the news and everything else going on.”

As is the case with most majors, students in the criminal justice program are encouraged to intern while in school in order to gain experience in the field they want to enter. Brown said his football experiences were time-consuming and he didn’t have the chance to intern. When asked if he thought his time at Temple adequately prepared him for a criminal justice career, Brown said it didn’t.

“You’re focused on getting good grades, but you’re also focused on getting yourself prepared for football,” Brown said. “With that, you don’t have the opportunity to get the work experience. I didn’t anyway. I didn’t get to study abroad or do internships due to lack of time, [let] alone being able to do an internship in D.C. at any kind of firm or anything. Any agency, anything with the Secret Service or anything like that would have definitely helped me take that path in my career.”

Although Brown graduated in four years, he said balancing classes and football was a challenge.

“You have assistance when needed with football,” Brown said. “You have access to study hall and stuff like that. Any sport when you go to school is hard. It’s a very demanding job. So long as you’re playing the sport, it is your job. They brought you here for a reason – to help them win.”

Brown played with the Owls from 2008 to 2011. After bouncing back and forth between offense and defense, he broke out in his senior year, playing defensive end and amassing 40 tackles and 4.0 sacks.

After the season, he trained with now-Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce in Atlanta. Brown went undrafted, but had short stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns. After workouts with various teams, including multiple sessions with the Philadelphia Eagles, he joined the AFL’s Philadelphia Soul for the 2013 season.

While he was playing with the Soul, World Wrestling Entertainment flew him to Tampa, Fla. for a four-day workout, during which Brown met WWE Superstar John Cena. Shortly after the Soul lost to the Arizona Rattlers 48-39 in ArenaBowl XXVI, Brown signed a developmental contract with WWE, choosing that over going to an NFL training camp.

“It’s a lot more stable than football,” Brown said. “The careers last a lot longer as well.”

After about a month and a half at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., Brown’s shoulder was bothering him. It turned out he had a torn rotator cuff and he needed surgery. He’s been doing rehab in New Jersey and will be going back to Orlando in about five weeks.

“Right now, that’s my No. 1 objective,” Brown said. “Obviously there are other windows that I am able to walk through, but right now it’s wrestling. Somehow, if football comes up and presents me with a great opportunity, I may do that as well.”

Brown said he did not have much trouble getting into ring shape when he first got to Orlando, only being limited because of his shoulder.

“I was in great shape,” Brown said. “I was strong. I was in cardiovascular shape. I didn’t … get deep into it because my shoulder was bothering me.”

Brown said his favorite wrestlers growing up were Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. In recent years, WWE has looked for former college athletes to develop into pro wrestlers. Current Superstars Roman Reigns, Titus O’Neil and Big E Langston are all former Division I football players.

“The hardest part for me is the acting part of it,” Brown added. “Having a character, being able to stay in character.”

Brown said he is still in the process of developing his character and that the process normally takes about six months. He said he will likely go back to Orlando sometime in January to continue training.

Evan Cross can be reached at or on Twitter @EvanCross.

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