Former Saints’ pick, wrestling’s Paul ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Orndorff dies at 71

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Long before he became an international wrestling star for the WWE/WWF, Paul Orndorff was a football star.

Orndorff, who played running back at the University of Tampa well enough to be drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1973, died Monday at the age of 71. Orndorff had been suffering from the late stages of dementia.

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Orndorff was an 11th-round pick, the 289th player chosen in that process after a college career that saw him score 21 touchdowns and gain more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.

He was unable to pass a physical with the Saints or Kansas City Chiefs. Orndorff spent one season with the Jacksonville Sharks in the defunct World Football League before turning to professional wrestling.

It proved to be a brilliant career move.

Orndorff spent decades as a professional wrestler and was one of the top stars in the sports entertainment industry.