The legend of Andre the Giant and the Redskins is a good one, firmly established in pop culture lore, to the point that the facts have blurred. I wrote about this three years ago to the week, and after going through the archives, it was pretty clear that there was no tryout. From SI, in 1982:
According to Joe Blair, public relations director of the Redskins, there was talk about giving Andre a tryout in 1976, but it never happened. Andre told [SI's Terry] Todd that he chose not to risk his wrestling career — he was making more money than any lineman was earning at the time — by taking time off for a trial in a sport in which he had no guarantee of success and no previous experience.
Still, as mentioned, there was clearly at least some conversation about bringing the Giant to the Skins, and George ‘the Animal’ Steele shed some more light on the issue during a recent podcast with UnderScoopFire.
Steele was talking about how he would ride from city to city with Vince McMahon Sr. and Vince McMahon Jr., and how the conversations would be all over the place.
“And in one of those early conversations, the Washington Redskins wanted to sign Andre the Giant to play football,” Steele said. “And they wanted to sign him to play as a linebacker on field goals and extra points, to stand up and kind of wave like a giant. And it would be great publicity for them and us.
“And because I was a football coach and had played a little bit, Vince Sr. says Jim what do you think about this idea? I says I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. First of all, if you take Andre the Giant — as big and strong as he is — and stuck him in front of me, with his hands in the air waving or something, I’d take his knee out.
“I said first of all, I think you’re making a mockery of the game. And he’s outstretched, he can’t protect himself, I’d cripple him. And I said every guy in the NFL would do that. He has no business doing that. I don’t know if you know that or not, but they had made the offer, and it almost went to signing, and that’s why they didn’t do it. Because it wasn’t the right thing to do for Andre, for wrestling, and really for football.”