- Ian O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer
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Bart Scott made quite an impression on millions of startled viewers with his postgame rant to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio after Scott's New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots in their divisional playoff game.
Scott's childhood hero, Hulk Hogan, was among them.
"I knew when Bart looked down the barrel of the camera he believed in himself and in what he was saying," Hogan told ESPNNewYork.com by phone. "And that makes him a real dangerous man."
Arguably the most popular pro wrestler of all time, Hogan was the audacious figure who inspired the Jets linebacker to become one of the NFL's leading trash talkers. Scott's interview with Paolantonio, punctuated by the Jets' new mantra, "Can't Wait," became an Internet sensation and caught the attention of the wrestling legend whose style and moves Scott studied through his childhood in Detroit.
"It was like one of my mid-'80s promos, and all that was missing were a few 'What are you gonna dos?' and some lightning bolts in there," said the 57-year-old Hogan, who now appears with TNA Wrestling on Spike TV. "It was right on the money. I think it's cool that [Scott] is stepping up and showboating it a bit, because it's about personality and entertaining people, too.
"I could tell Bart had been watching wrestling, and it's pretty cool because a lot of these guys are afraid to step outside the box. ... Sometimes when you say stuff you believe it and it happens."
Hogan said he knew Scott had to be a wrestling fan when he watched the video "just by his mannerisms. He had the cadence down, his eyes were real wide, and he wasn't looking at the interviewer but right down the barrel of that camera."
Scott lived by Hogan's articles of faith -- doing your training, saying your prayers and taking your vitamins. Does the Jets linebacker have a potential second career in the ring?
"Oh yeah," Hogan said. "When his career's over and he wants to make some real money, tell him to give me a call and we'll break him in the right way."
Scott is hardly the first professional athlete struck by the magnitude of Hogan's presence. When he first met Wayne Gretzky, Hogan said, "Gretzky asked me to autograph his hockey stick."
Hogan described himself as a casual pro football fan, but Scott has given him a not-so-casual rooting interest in the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh.
"I'm going with the Jets," Hogan said. "I love the Steelers, but if my boys with the Jets keep talking smack over there, they're going to go all the way."
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