Photo Credit: WWE

Darren Drozdov, a former NFL player who went on to star in pro wrestling before a tragic accident ended his career, died Friday.

His family announced he died of natural causes. Drozdov was 54.

The 6-foot-4 Drozdov, a star quarterback in high school in his native New Jersey, became a defensive tackle for the Maryland Terrapins. Although he went undrafted, he caught on with the Denver Broncos and appeared in six games in 1993. He also spent time with the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 1995.

After that, Drozdov turned to pro wrestling, and he joined the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE) in 1998. He earned the nickname “Droz” for obvious reasons, but he was also billed as “Puke,” referring to an infamous episode where he threw up on the football on the field during a Monday Night Football game.

Drozdov’s wrestling career ended tragically in October 1999 when he fractured two vertebrae and was left a quadriplegic after a botched wrestling move. He eventually regained movement in his upper body.

After his injury, Drozdov went on to a long career as a wrestling writer, podcaster and analyst.

Sports fans and fellow pro wrestlers turned to Twitter to share their condolences and memories of Droz. Actor Dwayne Johnson, who wrestled with Drozdov, said “Such an awesome dude. Great personality and great wrestling talent.”

[Dwayne Johnson]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.