Joel McHale's past life as a college football player

Nov 17, 2012 at 7:48 p.m. ET

The funnyman from Community and The Soup had a past as a college football player. He opens up about how it made him the strong person he is today.

Joel McHale

Any fan of Joel McHale’s, whether from The Soup, Community or any of his other numerous projects, would assume certain things about him. He is best known as the funny guy, and the word “jock” might never enter into the realm of possibility for the actor.

But in a recent interview with ESPN, McHale talks about his past as a University of Washington football player.

“I had been recruited to row at the University of Washington and I only played one year of football in high school,” McHale said in the interview.

He was a walk-on tight end for the team, but it wasn’t planned. He actually chose UW for a different sport, crew, but left the team a short while later.

“I got into a fight with the crew team over not pushing in a chair properly,” McHale said. “They have all these rules I never figured out.”

After that, McHale decided to walk on to the UW football team. Walking on to the team may have not been planned, but McHale found his niche with his football teammates. The way he talks about his time with the team, he makes it sound like he did it just for a challenge.

“I really didn’t know what I was doing. It was not smart,” he said. “It was one of those things where I didn’t know how long I could do this for. And then I turn around and all of a sudden, six months had gone by. I had gained a bunch of weight, I was in much better shape and I was really enjoying it.”

And in the end, McHale learned the type of attitude that got him to where he is today. Even though he was not on the team for long, it sounds like he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

“I started in January of 1992 and left in August of ’93,” McHale told ESPN. “There’s a side of me that would have loved to play. The time spent there I felt was very precious and I learned a ton. I was doing school, I was doing football and I was doing theater and those days really taught me about work ethic and what you have to do: You have to work really hard at the thing you love doing to be able to do it.”

Photo courtesy Brian To/