Throughout high school and college athletics, there are many multi-talented athletes that excel on many different fields of play. The natural talent present in these athletes opens the eyes of college recruiters and in some cases even professional scouts.
Some professional athletes have been drafted in multiple sports. And some athletes are just absolute freaks of nature.
For example, one of the most athletic basketball players to ever play the game, LeBron James, admitted that he could have entered the NFL draft out of high school if he wanted to. According to ESPN.com, King James was an all-state wide receiver in high school. James, according to his NBA.com profile, stands at 6’8”, weighing in at 250 pounds.
Calvin Johnson, arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL, stands at 6’5” and weighs 236 pounds. Yet, he is one of the most athletic NFL football players in the game, breaking the all-time record for receiving yards in a season this year (1,964 yards). So imagine if you put LeBron James in football pads. According to NFL.com, Calvin Johnson has a vertical leap of 41 inches. LeBron James: 44 inches.
Unfortunately, the chances of seeing James on the gridiron are slim to none. ESPN.com said that James quit football after his junior year at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to focus on basketball. James still follows the NFL closely and has said before that he thinks he could have been a hybrid tight end/receiver, similar to Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez.
Some NFL players simply don’t think LeBron James would make it in the NFL.
Football is one of the most grueling sports known to man. As George Carlin once said, “In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.”
In basketball, the object is to weave through defenders to put the ball in a hoop. And if you get fouled, you get to shoot free throws.
One NFL player went as far as to tell LeBron James that he couldn’t handle the physical style of play. In 2009, Cleveland Browns Nose Tackle, Shaun Rogers told ESPN.com, “It’s a punishing game. I just don’t think you can step off the basketball court after not going through this year in and year out and just play football. From that standpoint, I just don’t think it’s possible. You have to weather and condition your body to take this punishment.”
I don’t necessarily think that LeBron James couldn’t dominate the NFL. I mean statistically speaking, LeBron should be a dominant athlete had he played in the NFL. But I don’t think it comes to anyone’s surprise that the National Football League is simply too aggressive for the King.
King James was never drafted to the NFL, but there have been plenty of athletes in the history of sport that were drafted by different teams in multiple sports.
An article on BleacherReport.com said that the New York Yankees selected NFL quarterback, John Elway in the 1981 MLB draft. Elway was a multi-sport athlete in high school and college, playing right field and pitcher at Stanford University.
But in 1983, Elway entered the NFL draft. The Denver Broncos selected him with the number one pick in that draft. Elway played the entirety of his career as a Bronco and is now the vice president of football operations in Denver.
Jackie Robinson, one of the most historic baseball players to ever step foot on the diamond, was also a multi-sport athlete in high school and college.
Robinson’s number, 42, is the only number to ever be retired by every team in Major League Baseball. But before Robinson shattered the color barrier in Major League Baseball, he conquered multiple sports at UCLA, where he attended college.
According to an article on UCLABruins.com, Robinson did everything from lead the nation in punt return yards (1939), to win an NCAA title at the track & field championships for the broad jump (1940) and even led the basketball team in points per game (1940).
The article also said that Jackie Robinson was the first ever UCLA athlete to letter in four varsity sports. Robinson clearly found his home on the baseball diamond but certainly not before dominating nearly every other sport he could possibly play.
One of the most amazing multi-sport athletes has to be Bo Jackson. According to his NFL.com profile, Jackson (RB) was a member of the Los Angeles Raiders for three years. Following his NFL career, Jackson spent eight years in Major League Baseball as a member of the Royals, White Sox and Angels.
Jackson was selected as the number one overall pick in the 1986 NFL draft, after winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn University in 1985. According to an article on ESPN.com, once Jackson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he opted to play baseball instead, for the Kansas City Royals.
Because Jackson didn’t sign a contract with the Buccaneers, his name was re-entered into the draft the following season.
The Los Angeles Raiders, owned by Al Davis, drafted him in the seventh round. Jackson dropped so far in the 1986 draft due to concerns that the multi-talented athlete would never play football.
In 1990, Jackson was selected to the Pro Bowl. The year before that, Jackson was selected to the 1989 MLB All-Star game.
Jackson is the first player to ever be named to the All-Star game in two different sports. If that isn’t an amazing athletic feat, I really don’t know what would be considered amazing.
Michelle Berthiaume can be contacted at email@example.com