This is a cover story I’ve had my eye on doing for years. John Cena isn’t just the biggest WWE Superstar working today, he is, like me, a fellow Springfield College football alum. Unlike me, he was REALLY good at football—an All-American—and kicked everyone’s ass on the field. We missed each other by a year, but as you can imagine, he left quite a legacy behind. I still remember picking up the student newspaper one day and seeing that he was now actively engaged in Florida Championship Wrestling (now NXT) and that he was poised to make his WWE debut. To have that memory in my head then see a live WWE event and watch the place go ballistic when he makes his entrance is at once breathtaking and motivating.
Cena is no overnight success. (Is there really such a thing?) His success is the result of years of hard work and dedication. After graduating from Springfield, he was flat broke, worked the front desk at a gym, drank expired protein powder, fed himself on eat-the-whole-thing-and-it’s-free pizza deals, and all the while never stopped busting his ass and never once felt sorry for himself.
Yet despite setting such a positive example to so many young kids, and giving thousands of hours of his life to charity—no one in the history of Make-A-Wish can touch his 400+ wishes granted to date—he is reviled by adult fans for not turning heel and giving them a more “interesting” character to watch each week.
Adding all of this up, and observing Cena deal with the myriad expectations and demands of millions of fans, the company he works for, his fellow Superstars, the hundreds of Make-A-Wish kids, is to observe a case study in focus. He is as single-minded as a monk when it comes to his goals. Love him or hate him, I believe there is a lot to learn from him, whatever your own life goals might be. I did my best to bring those service elements into a story that is also, hopefully, inspiring.
However, there was a ton of material across several interviews with Cena that didn’t make its way into the cover feature, namely, Cena’s comments on his feud with the Rock, his take on the now-fabled “Attitude Era” (and why it’s never coming back) and where he sees himself when sports entertainment is in his rear view mirror. You can get all of that and more here, in my EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH JOHN CENA.