Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in 2020.

If you’ve watched the San Francisco 49ers recently, chances are you’ve seen George Kittle make a big game. The All-Pro tight end has generated 137 first downs (plus a couple of blistering first downs) in his career, and there’s a good chance he’ll add at least a few more on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. in Super Bowl LIV.

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Over the last two seasons Kittle celebrated many first falls with a characteristic hand signal. First, he raises three fingers – the middle, ring and little fingers – with the thumb and forefinger forms “0” in the form of a vicious circle. He then swipes three fingers down to the base of the “M” shaped formation. His teammates Dante Pettis and Marchioness Goodwin have also joined in the celebration on multiple occasions.

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It’s a tribute to Pentagon Jr., a Mexican professional wrestler Kittle befriended during a long week of shows around WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. The gesture represents “Cero Miedo” (zero fear), the Pentagon’s signature phrase and mantra, and a fitting expression of Kittle’s playing style on the field.

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“Two years ago in New Orleans, I went to WrestleMania and watched him wrestle six times on a bunch of different shows,” Kittle told Sportzshala of The Pentagon. “His swagger in the ring and his confidence just stuck with me. I mean wrestling is something I also love and enjoy. enters the ring, the way he leaves the ring, everything he does has a purpose and I just love it.”

“It was brief,” the Pentagon recalls of the meeting. “We fought six or seven times a day and that happened after the fourth fight. He told me that he admired me; in truth, I didn’t know him very well. gave me his T-shirt.”

Since they met in mid-2018, both Kittle and the Pentagon have been on an upward trajectory for their respective purposes. Kittle recorded a pair of five-touchdown 1,000-yard campaigns, each of which resulted in Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl berth. Already a star in Mexico through the AAA promotion, Pentagon rose to fame in the United States as part of the iconic Lucha Underground wrestling show and has since expanded his profile with IMPACT wrestling and most recently with All Elite Wrestling.

Their friendship, mostly fueled by messages exchanged on Instagram, doesn’t end with Kittle’s celebration on the field. On Halloween last year, Kittle wore his signature cleats with the face of the Pentagon and “Cero Miedo” written on them. He even produced 49ers-themed Pentagon mask shirts.. Then the Pentagon upped the ante by releasing its own version combat mask with 49ers colors and Kittle number.

Kittle is set to play in the biggest football game of his life on Sunday and looks set to have a long NFL career ahead of him. But when his time on the football field is over, don’t be surprised if Kittle enters the world of the Pentagon, following in the footsteps of NFL stars like Rob Gronkowski. Laurence Taylor, William “Refrigerator” PerrySteve “Mongo” McMichael Reggie White as well as many other NFL veterans.

In fact, Kittle already felt what it was like to walk through the ropes and perform in front of a crowd. After growing up with an appreciation for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and RockKittle was drawn into the wrestling superfandom by his University of Iowa teammate Steve Manders. Ahead of WrestleMania 31, which coincidentally took place at Kittle’s current home of Levi’s Stadium, Manders hooked Kittle on Iowa native Seth Rollins and the rest was history.

After they graduated from Iowa, Manders devoted himself to work full time and entered the Rollins School of Wrestling, the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy, professionally in this business. Kittle was selected in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the 49ers in April of that year, but after Kittle fulfilled his first few commitments to the team in California, Manders convinced him to take a direct part in the show.

“It was right after the rookie mini-camp, I went back and did it,” Kittle recalls. “The nines weren’t too happy with me for enter the ringbut I told them, “They don’t touch me. It’s OK.’ [The wrestlers] wanted me to make a spear and I said, “Let’s do something with less contact.” And so I [did] dazzler.”

“There were about 150 to 200 people in backwater Iowa,” Kittle said. “I showed up six hours before the show started. [to] help set up the ring. We practice in the ring… I had one practice before I did a live stun… Pop from the crowd was like that, I understand why people do it. It was like a touchdown at Kinnick Stadium. [in Iowa] because I didn’t play Levi’s… it’s the best recreational sport.

“After I did the stunner in the ring, I realized that yes, I can imagine myself doing it. I mean, it’s too much fun.”

In the meantime, Kittle has more pressing matters to attend to. And the first time he makes a big game flashing “0” and then “M” in celebration, the Pentagon will be watching. And so will tens of millions of people around the world — the largest audience that has ever witnessed the Pentagon branding.

“George is a friend of mine and I would be honored to perform Cero Miedo. [at the Super Bowl]the Pentagon said, “because we are warriors in what we do.”

Gabriel Garduno and Nick Wagoner also contributed to this story.