When you hear the name Dale Earnhardt Jr., it’s impossible to think of anything other than NASCAR. While the North Carolina native doesn’t drive full-time anymore, he’s still a living motorsports legend. Growing up, though, he wanted to play another sport: football.
As a high school freshman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. headed to a new school and decided that he wanted to join the football team. A school administrator, however, shut the teenager down for an incredibly relatable reason.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had quite the NASCAR career
When it comes to auto racing, few names are bigger than Earnhardt. While Dale Sr. may have found more on-track success, Dale Earnhardt Jr. still did pretty well for himself behind the wheel.
Growing up, though, Junior didn’t dream of becoming a NASCAR driver; he actually earned an automotive degree and started working on cars at his father’s dealership. That job came to an end, however, and Earnhardt Jr. realized that racing could help him form a relationship with his dad.
Regardless of why he started racing, Dale Jr. proved to be a natural once he climbed behind the wheel. He made his Busch Series debut in 1996 and stepped up to the Cup Series two years later.
Although some serious concussion issues eventually slowed him down, Dale Earnhardt Jr. The driver won 50 races across the Cup Series and what’s currently called the Xfinity Series, including two Daytona 500 victories, and took home an incredible 15 NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver titles.
Too small to play high school football
While he eventually found success in the world of NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr. initially wanted to focus on another sport. Like many other teenagers, he headed to high school dreaming of joining the football team.
“So, when I went to Mooresville, I was going into the ninth grade, and the dean of the school or superintendent or whatever was showing us around a week before school started,” Earnhardt Jr. explained during a 2017 press conference, according to For The Win. “But they were showing us around the property, and I was 4-foot 10-inches tall at the time. I think I was (5-foot-3) when I got my driver’s license, so I was real short. And we were driving by the football field, and they were out there practicing, and I said, ‘I want to play football.”
Junior’s tour guide, however, wasn’t too sure about football. Given the boy’s size, he had another idea.
“And the guy said, ‘I’m going to take you down and introduce you to the soccer coach because I don’t think you need to be playing football,” Junior continued.
Dale Jr. ended up spending one season on the team, sitting on the bench and coming into the game during garbage time. He did earn a letterman jacket, though, and, as recorded in the For The Win story, used to have “former backup fullback for Mooresville Blue Devils varsity soccer” in his Twitter biography.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth is still impressive, even without an NFL career
Growing up, plenty of sports fans dream of playing pro football and leading their favorite team to the Super Bowl title. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. never got that chance thanks to his small stature and a school administrator, everything still worked out in the long run.
Thanks to his incredible popularity, Junior had no problems making money during his time on the NASCAR circuit. Although he was never quite as successful as his famous father, the Earnhardt name helped Dale Jr. score plenty of big-time endorsement deals with major brands. His cash flow won’t be drying up in retirement, either, thanks to JR Motorsports, his media work, and a variety of business endeavors.
In total, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth is estimated at $300 million. Given that the average NFL player is taking home a few million per season, according to CNBC, it’s safe to say that Junior made the right move by staying away from football.