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Lane Johnson dupes media with bear-wrestling story

New Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson threw out the bait, and the Philadelphia media fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Bear wrestling became all the rage in the United States after the Civil War, but its popularity swiftly declined when Jean Francis Borne died in the ring in 1878. Occasional remnants could be seen in roadhouse bars as a sideshow act, even into the late 20th century.


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Just outside of Cincinnati in the early 1990s, there was a bar that would promote wrestling against a de-clawed bear with an iron muzzle. Most of these grappling ursines were black bears scattered across the backwoods, between 6-foot-5 and 7 feet tall and weigh anywhere from 400 to 900 pounds.

The bear wrestling novelty understandably was met with stiff resistance amid the politically correct movement of the late 20th century, but the 2013 NFL Draft has brought it back into the spotlight, albeit for a brief moment.

Our suspicions were raised when the over-zealous Philadelphia media unearthed a story that the first-rounder's wife didn't even know. The Eagles' new right tackle hailed beat writers with a story that he used to wrestle black bears on his uncle's ranch in east Texas. Johnson even maintained that the bouts improved his blocking technique.

Killing our buzz, the former Oklahoma star finally relented late Friday afternoon, admitting to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he concocted the bear-wrestling story.

In an era in which indoctrinated professional athletes with bleached personalities reveal nothing more than the spin doctors washed into their brains, it's refreshing to be regaled with Johnson's tall tale.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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