We love it when athletes from other sports visit American Ninja Warrior. Most of the time, it's because they’re really fans of the show. They understand this isn’t exactly their forté and just want to have some fun. Not many of them plan on making it to Vegas. NFL players have an especially checkered past when it comes to Ninja Warrior results...
So please forgive us for having some doubts when Andrew East approached the start line on night four of the Qualifiers. Andrew is a former NFL long snapper who has played with seven different teams. He’s married to Shawn Johnson, a highly decorated Olympic gold medal gymnast.
Shawn was in the hosts’ tower with Matt and Akbar during her husband’s run. She nervously anticipated every move he made. But both Andrew and Shawn were delighted with what was honestly... Not a shabby run. Andrew made it to the fourth obstacle, Air Surfer, when we expected him to fall a bit earlier than that. (Sorry, Andrew!)
Before his run, we caught up with Andrew, who was all smiles as he jovially discussed his excitement and preparation for his run.
Why did he decide to do American Ninja Warrior?
“I’m so excited! It’s been so fun to take on different challenges athletically since my football career ended. I had the opportunity to do this and I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’ I don’t know if I’m going to do well or if I’m going to do absolutely awful but I’m going to give it a try because it looks fun.
I got the call about three months ago. I had never stepped foot into a Ninja gym before that. It’s been so fun to meet different people and have them tutor me and mentor me, and get my hands on different obstacles.”
How will his football experience help him on the course?
“Here’s what I’m saying. If I make it to the Warped Wall, I think I’m good. But it’s everything to get there that I’m worried about. Anything hanging is not a football skill. I think explosiveness through the hips, the kipping motion, is fine with me. I trained for that with football. I think balance is going to be my next strong suit.”
What’s it like to have Olympic gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson as a training partner?
“I feel like my wife, even though she’s six months pregnant now, would still do better on the show than me, having trained for it. She’s been a huge help trying to get my upper body strength better. Hanging from bars and stuff like that. It’s what she does. It’s been great to work together.”
What are the expectations here?
“I have pretty modest expectations. My goal is to go have fun. I’m excited to get those pre-competition nerves. I feel like if I make it through one obstacle, I’ll be happy. Anything above that is just a bonus.”
Andrew can be proud of himself. He made it through more than one obstacle. While he did not crack the top 30, Andrew held his own. We think he should keep at the Ninja Warrior training!