"First of all, I want to thank everyone for coming out here today. After having a long discussion with friends and family, I've decided to follow my first love," said LeBron James
And just like that, James had the sports world buzzing.
In a video released last Thursday, the Cleveland Cavaliers' star reveals just enough information to leave viewers speculating on what "first love" he may be pursuing. Early guesses included releasing a rap album or getting involved in something football related.
The video doesn't tell much other than that something is happening on January 18, 2009 before the words "brace yourself" flash onto the screen.
While the 16 second YouTube posting drew some interest, it wasn't until these pictures of James leaked that people started talking.
The photoshoot pictures show LeBron suited up from head to toe in a Cleveland Browns uniform.
Some have argued that this just means James will start selling football apparel. However, that just doesn't make any sense.
Any new clothing line or product featuring LeBron would be through Nike, which has the Cleveland Cavaliers star under contract until 2010. But in these pictures, James is wearing an authentic NFL jersey, complete with several very visible Reebok logos on each shoulder suggesting that Nike has nothing to do with this. This also wouldn't explain LeBron's quote about deciding to follow his first love.
Looking at the pictures, we also see at least one other Cleveland Brown in the background so either this is a commercial (which wouldn't be any fun) or the announcement coming from James is, indeed, very big.
Which brings us to one possibility, no matter how unlikely, that has gained momentum amongst bloggers and message board posters. This theory has James following in the footsteps of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, playing two professional sports.
It may sound crazy but when you look deeper, the rumor makes a little bit of sense.
James dominated as a wide receiver in high school, thanks to his athleticism and size, and was named First-Team All-State as a sophomore and junior. He was recruited heavily by top colleges such as Miami, Southern California, Michigan, and Ohio State before choosing to focus solely on basketball.
In this brief segment from a Cavaliers' game on TNT, we see some highlights from LeBron on the gridiron. Even more interestingly, the announcer says that James admitted in an interview that he misses football "every day."
At 6'8", 250 pounds, there are few players, if any, who would be able to match up against the star forward whose amazing mix of size, speed, and athleticism would require much game planning against.
LeBron's basketball coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary knew that his top player's skill stretched beyond the basketball court.
"I will tell you that when I was at St. V’s, they had two football coaches who’d been in the NFL," Dambrot said in an interview with Pistons.com's Keith Langlois. "Jay Brophy played for Miami and has a Super Bowl ring and Mark Murphy was a strong safety for 12 years. And they told me he was a sure-fire NFL receiver. He was devastating. It was like he was Randy Moss out there."
Except for the fact that LeBron has four inches and 40 pounds on Moss, not to mention a vertical leap (44") that is five inches greater than the New England Patriots' wideout.
While no forty time can be found for James, his quickness is on display every night. "I don’t know what his 40 time was, but I’ll tell this: If you ever watch an NBA game, there’s no one quicker from one end of the floor to the other,” says Coach Dambrot.
While James likely won't crossover to the NFL, it'd be fun as hell to watch and Browns' fans are already salivating over the idea of LeBron lining up alongside Braylon Edwards. It still remains a possibility and on January 18, 2009, we'll be bracing ourselves for The King's big announcement.