FOXBORO -- Matthew Mulligan beamed at his locker on Thursday. Somehow he had turned one of his childhood idols into a Patriots fan.
Pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan posted a video on Facebook earlier in the day where he declared himself a Pats supporter. It went viral but left many wondering why Hogan shot it in the first place.
It had something to do with Mulligan, who the Hulkster mentions by name in the video, and the blocking tight end was happy to explain.
Mulligan said that he asked his wife, Stephanie, for a replica WWF championship belt for Christmas. Since she didn't know what her husband was looking for, Mulligan went about ordering one himself and came across the contact information for Hogan's Beach Shop in Clearwater, Fla. He then put in a call to special order a replica Double-Winged Eagle belt, the kind Hogan once sported as pro wrestling's biggest star.
Mulligan exchanged emails with the store manager Ron Howard, and found out he was getting even more than he'd asked for. Hogan had signed the belt -- "To Mully . . . Go Pats," it reads -- and sent along pictures he took with the belt as well.
"I think there's only a few people in life that as a grown man you'd be pretty giddy about meeting and I think Hulk Hogan would be one of them," Mulligan said. "I was showing all my buddies at home. They were all freaking out. Hulk Hogan is a household name whether you watch pro wrestling or not in my opinion. So it was really cool."
Mulligan hopes to have the belt by Monday and plans to hang it somewhere in his locker.
"Anybody who grew up in my era," Mulligan said, "if you weren't watching professional wrestling, you weren't watching very much I guess . . . Him doing that promo [for the Patriots] was all them. I definitely appreciate it because like I said I'm a big fan of Hulk Hogan."
Mulligan said the belt wouldn't be used as any kind of locker room award, but he figured many of his teammates would appreciate having it around since many of them were pro wrestling fans growing up.
"Any grown man would probably want to stop and shake either Michael Jordan's hand or Hulk Hogan's," Mulligan said. "Hulk Hogan's iconic. He's a household name. No matter who you are you'd say 'Oh ya, I know him,' even if you're not a wrestling fan. It was really cool."
Mulligan said he's even dreamed about getting into pro wrestling whenever his football career is over.
"People would say 'Hey would you want to do the WWE when you're done?' and I'd be like 'Heck yeah,' " Mulligan said. "For sure. Not saying it would happen, but it would be a cool thing."
He's even thought of a nickname.
"There's been so many things," he said with a smile. "I would love to be The Maniac. That would be great. It would just be a surreal thing."
Mulligan still keeps a close eye on the WWE. He knows the back story of current star The Miz, who went from MTV's Real World show to pro wrestler.
"Now he's gigantic," Mulligan said. "So you never know."