The Real-Life Inspiration Behind Air Bud’s Unlikely NFL Career and Fall from Grace


airbudYou’ve probably heard of Air Bud: Golden Receiver but unless you’re a die-hard sports trivia junkie you’ve probably never heard of Mr. Woofers, the real-life dog who inspired the film and had a brief cup of coffee in the NFL with the Detroit Lions.

Much of Woofers early story is accurately portrayed in the film – the casual instance of passing a football back and forth between owner Josh and his mother’s jerky boyfriend is intercepted by the pet pooch which leads them to discover their canine’s uncanny ability to catch. The Friday Night Lights heroics at the high school. The dognapping at the hands of Russians. The return to the field. The game ending tackle. The heroics of Josh and his teammates to overcome the odds. Happily ever after. The end. Right?

Well, the real life story continued with Mr. Woofers being recruited by THE Ohio State University where he went on to graduate magna cum laude despite reports that Woofers attended even fewer classes than the typical Ohio State player. His stats were impressive but scouts wondered if his skills would translate to the fast-paced, hard-hitting NFL game.

Enter Matt Millen. The all-pro, 4 time Super Bowl winning linebacker turned analyst turned general manager of the Detroit Lions. Millen had a pavlovian reaction whenever he saw a receiver in the draft. He took first round busts Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams, eventually getting it right with the can’t miss talent of Calvin Johnson. Oh, and Mr. Woofers.

Woofers fell to the 5th round where Millen saw a perfect target to run drop off patterns for another first round bust QB Joey Harrington.  Unfortunately Woofers only played in two games with the Lions, catching only 6 passes for 22 yards before being injured by Ray Lewis as he tried to go across the middle to catch a dump pass from a hurried Harrington.

Free time and big money were bad news for the small town pooch. He started hanging out with Pac Man Jones, Dennis Rodman and Ric Flair. There was a Kris Kardashian sex tape that is only available in nations with no laws against bestiality. The parties were legendary. All night, all day. Strippers, money, drugs, guns. Things got out of hand fast. An intervention was attempted with Tom Arnold and a reformed Spuds McKenzie trying to talk sense to the dog but he was too far gone or at least he was not yet ready to change. It didn’t take. He knocked around between the XFL and the Canadian Football League but his reputation alone was toxic to a locker room and he’d be cut after one or two games.

You can find Woofers now, clean and sober, with a wife and two kids. selling used cars in Zionsville, Indiana. He doesn’t like to speak about his past but if you buy a car and persist he will give you an autographed 8×10 and throw in undercoating.


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