Before he was “The Rock,” Dwayne Johnson was just a freshman at McKinley High School with NFL dreams.

On Saturday, Johnson was back at his old stomping grounds in Honolulu, keeping a watchful eye over the XFL Showcase.

All the latest sports news from Hawaii’s sports station

Johnson never made it to the NFL. Following his collegiate career at the University of Miami, he became one of the world’s biggest stars, a mogul and an entertainment industry giant in every sense of the word instead.

As part of the XFL’s ownership group with co-owner Dany Garcia, Johnson is aiming to revive a league that folded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he is aiming to provide an avenue for players like him that didn’t get an NFL opportunity but still want to make a living playing football.

“Today I think is not only a special day I think in the world of football as we’re trying to find talent for the XFL, but also just on a personal level. As you guys know, I did a lot of my growing up here in Hawaii and a lot of my formative years were here in Hawaii and on this field where they’re preparing right now,” Johnson told local media on Saturday afternoon. “You can hear them in the background. This was a field where I got after it. This was a field where me and my teammates, me and my McKinley teammates, we put our hands in the dirt. This beautiful turf was not here when I was here. It was a rough field but it taught us so much and so I can tell you from a personal standpoint, I’ve been really fortunate and lucky over the course of my career to have done a few things that have been pretty exciting and memorable for me. This by far is one of the most memorable days because life comes full circle.

“For me, I did not make it to the NFL. That was my goal. When I started putting my hands in the dirt here with my teammates, the goal was to make it in the NFL. That did not happen so to be able to come back, put the showcase on, help create an opportunity for local boys that I once was and I will always be, just that opportunity to live their dream. It’s full circle and it’s a very meaningful day for me.”