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Oh, brother! WWE star, Eagles coach ready for big weekend

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis gestures during a preseason NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 12, 2021.
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Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis gestures during a preseason NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 12, 2021.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Minnesota linebacker Mike Rallis (26) is shown at an NCAA college football game against Western Michigan on Sept. 15, 2012.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Minnesota linebacker Mike Rallis (26) is shown at an NCAA college football game against Western Michigan on Sept. 15, 2012.

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Philadelphia Eagles linebackers coach Nick Rallis gestures during a preseason NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 12, 2021.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Minnesota linebacker Mike Rallis (26) is shown at an NCAA college football game against Western Michigan on Sept. 15, 2012.

PHILADELPHIA >> Mike Rallis had his younger brother draped over his shoulders and was set to dump him to the turf — as a roughhousing brother might do — when he took an abrupt blow to his ribs.

In a flash, Nick Rallis was on his feet and had turned the fight around. He spun his brother and dropped Mike with a brutal Stone Cold Stunner in a scene straight out of WWE’s “Raw.” Mike Rallis popped in the air and landed flush on his back. Minnesota Gophers football players that had lined a makeshift wrestling ring roared “finish him!” at Nick. Nick hooked big brother’s left leg, watched the referee count, 1! 2! 3! and stumbled to his feet, his hand raised in victory.

In wrestling parlance, this was a loser-leaves-town match for Mike Rallis. He had finished his career as a Gophers linebacker in 2013 and symbolically passed the torch to fellow linebacker, Nick. That moment at Minnesota’s indoor practice facility also provided a sneak peak into what was ahead for the brothers: Mike Rallis followed his pro wrestling passion and is better known these days as WWE star Madcap Moss. Much like he did in his match against his brother, Nick Rallis knows how to leave a football field a winner. At just 29, he’s in his second season as linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, Madcap Moss is among the wrestlers in the mix for WWE’s Royal Rumble event, one of the sports entertainment company’s premier events. The next day, the Eagles host San Francisco in the NFC championship game.

“If I went back to 2012, and you asked what career either of those guys would have found themselves in, anyone in that locker room would have told you Nick is obviously going to be a coach one day and Mike is going to be in the WWE one day,” said former Gophers teammate Brock Vereen. “It is fascinating that both of them ended up exactly where they were going to end up.”

Mike Rallis was such a fan of both sports that he took his pro wrestling surname from, yes, former Vikings receiver Randy Moss.

“There’s a lot of kids who were into football,” Madcap Moss said. “But we were kind of known as the guys who were into wrestling, too. And we loved it, man. There’s videos of us probably doing some stuff that we shouldn’t have been doing as kids. It wasn’t the safest thing to be doing, having wrestling matches on the bed and performing the moves, usually on Nick. He was the smaller one.”

The brothers didn’t show their wrestling love by just watching the Monday night shows and pay-per-view events. Moss said the brothers used their collection of hundreds of wrestling figures to create their own version of WWE. They made a ramp and ring out of shoe boxes and dubbed the promotion “Wrestling Guys.” They wrote the storylines, controlled the action and, in many ways, set the tone for their future professions.

They did it again in college, though this time they ditched the figures and put on the tights. At Minnesota, they called it the Locker Room Wrestling League, with the final match between the brothers. Madcap Moss was the bad guy.

Moss did have a tryout with the Miami Dolphins before he made the move to WWE’s farm system in 2014. He told his younger brother the new gig was fun, hard, rewarding and nonstop action. Nick, though, always had his head in the playbook or eyes on film, and while there might have been dreams of becoming the next Goldberg or The Rock, his future was in coaching football.

He spent one season coaching college ball before he was hired by his hometown Vikings. His was quickly hired by the Eagles in 2021 and became the youngest position coach in the NFL.

“Nick will be a defensive coordinator some day,” said Vereen, now a TV college football analyst. “The guy knows so much football. He could have been a college defensive coordinator before he even graduated college.”

There are some things that get by Nick.

Take for example in September 2021 when Moss was set to make a surprise return on WWE “Smackdown” at a show in Philadelphia. Moss was dressed all in black to hide his identity as he pretended to be a camera man and helped sidekick Happy Corbin sneak attack Kevin Owens.

“I walked right past Nick with a hoodie over my head and a hat low on my face and he had no idea I was there,” Moss said, laughing. “As smart as he can be with football, I guess Happy Corbin and I outsmarted him in that situation.”

Super Bowl winners, World Series champions, all kinds of great teams are often awarded WWE championship belts for their achievements. Moss, who has thrown his loyalties behind his brother and the Eagles, would love to be the wrestler who brings the belt to Philly.

“I sure hope that I get the chance to do that,” Moss said. “I’ve definitely caught myself daydreaming about being in the stadium for the Super Bowl and maybe somehow sneaking my way on down to the field after the game for the celebration. Then I have to snap out of it because I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

The Eagles wouldn’t mind that scenario either, with big brother watching, while Nick Rallis walks off the football field a winner again.

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