20 Athletes Who Rock at Other Sports Too

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2012

20 Athletes Who Rock at Other Sports Too

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    We admire the hell out of some athletes for their dominance on the court or field, but just because they own at their sport, doesn't mean that's the only one they're good at.

    Guys like Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan have proven that some dudes have the talent to crossover to other sports and are just as good doing something else. It's a little unfair, especially considering you're stuck with a 5'8" frame and 4.8 speed, but we should give them props for their athleticism.

    Whether it's winning national titles, or even winning a Heisman Trophy, these are the guys who shouldn't be shy about the other sports that they absolutely rock at. Wonder if they still wear their high school letterman jackets around just to show off?

20. LeBron James

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    Bron might be the most talented 'baller on the planet, but when he wasn't grabbing balls off the board, he was snagging passes from his QB.

    Besides his three years as a receiver in high school—including an All-State accolade—LeBron gave us a little teaser of what could have been in his State Farm commercial a couple of years ago. As a Cleveland fan, we're sure he would have earned a starting role for the Browns.

19. Michael Phelps

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    Unless you've been hiding on another planet for the past eight years, you know who Phelps is—and even then, we think you would have heard of this dude.

    As the world-record holder for the most medals won in an Olympic career, it's hard to imagine him being any better at anything else.

    But apparently Phelps can drive the ball off the tee like he can dive off a platform into a pool, as he's been known to hit some incredible shots.

    At this point, it's hard to imagine him being mediocre at anything he does.

18. Charlie Ward

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    As a Heisman Trophy winner, one would think he'd have chosen the gridiron, but for Ward, he thought the hardwood was where he could receive the most success and ultimately had an 11-year NBA career.

    If that wasn't enough, Ward was drafted not once but twice in the MLB draft (even though he never played baseball in college) and also shined on the tennis court, participating in the Arthur Ashe Amateur Tournament.

    Yes, it's okay to be jealous.

17. Tim Duncan

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    Just like our No. 19 athlete Michael Phelps, Duncan enjoyed some success in the pool. Knowing he has a similar frame, we wonder if he could have ever competed in the Olympics and dominated in the same way.

    With his four NBA titles and soon-to-be Hall of Fame career, we're guessing he wouldn't change a thing about his decision to pursue hoops instead.

16. Michael Jordan

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    As arguably the greatest player in NBA history, we were shocked when MJ walked away from the game in 1993 at age 30. What was even more surprising was his decision to hit the diamond instead of hitting game-winners.

    He falls on our list because he did make it to a couple of spring trainings with the big-league club. Albeit unsuccessful, he did still show some flash of what could have been had he chosen a bat instead of the baggy shorts.

15. John Smoltz

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    As a 200-game winner and runner-up in postseason wins in a career, Smoltz should be inducted into Cooperstown in a couple of years, but while waiting around to hear his name called for that exclusive fraternity, he's spending time perfecting his swing on the golf course.

    After competing in a Nationwide event last May, Smoltzy has the thumbs-up from TIger Woods. If you have him on your side, we're guessing you know what you're doing.

14. Matt Holliday

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    Holliday's one of baseball's best hitters, but before he decided that knocking in guys on the basepath was for him, he had a scholarship to play football in his home state of Oklahoma for the Cowboys of OK State.

    Standing 6'4", and built like he is, we have no doubt the dude would have been able to hold his own had he went in that direction.

13. Donovan McNabb

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    McNabb holds most football records at Syracuse, so for him to even attempt basketball is pretty impressive—considering it was fairly easy to see his future was in throwing the pigskin. But just because he was a walk-on for The Orange way back when doesn't mean he wasn't any good.

    We give him props for even being a walk-on at a powerhouse school in the Big East, and who knows, had he focused more on basketball, he could of been the next Charlie Ward.

12. Julius Peppers

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    Peppers is a complete beast, so it's not surprising he chose to go the football route. But while in college, why not use that big body to set screens and grab some boards?

    A contributing player, Peppers did all the little things for the Tar Heels, even though he was heavily recruited by Coach K to focus just on basketball. (He went to UNC so he could do both.)

    As one of the most ferocious players in the NFL, it looks like his agility on the court has paid off on the field while attacking quarterbacks.

11. Antonio Gates

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    Growing up near Kent State, we remember the run Gates led the Golden Flashes on during the 2002 NCAA Tourney, ultimately falling to Indiana in the Elite Eight. He was by far the leader of that team.

    Mr. Clutch played two years for the Flashes and averaged 18 points and 7 boards. Not bad for a guy who went on to become an eight-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Chargers.

10. Nyjer Morgan

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    Rarely do you see a professional athlete actually switch sports after starting their career, but that's exactly what Morgan did.

    After becoming the first African American player in the Western Hockey League (one of three major junior hockey leagues in Canada), "T-Plush" thought it was time to hang up the skates and grab a baseball glove.

    With all his goofy nicknames and antics on the diamond, we wonder how many fights he would have been in if he ever tried that stuff on the ice.

9. Tony Gonzalez

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    There's absolutely no argument as to how great a tight end Gonzalez is. He's approaching 100 career TD receptions and holds numerous NFL records.

    But before his esteemed career in-between the dashes, he was a forward for the Golden Bears basketball team, putting up pedestrian numbers but contributing nonetheless.

    Here's a video on why he elected to forgo basketball and decided football was the way to go. I'm sure we can all agree he made the right call.

8. Michael Vick

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    The reason Vick "allegedly" has a fumbling problem is because he's used to carrying around a much smaller ball. At least that's what we think after knowing he got drafted by the Rockies back in 2000 to be a pitcher—four years after he last stepped onto a baseball diamond.

    Think about that for a second. Four years removed from a sport and a professional team thinks you're that much of an athlete to draft you? Insane.

7. Jeff Samardzija

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    We remember watching Samardzija every Saturday afternoon for Notre Dame a couple years ago. If you had seen some of the catches he was making, you would have thought there was no doubt he was going to play in the NFL, especially since he was an All-American.

    But when you can toss heat as a pitcher and get drafted by a team like the Cubs in the fifth round, we guess it's tough to forgo that to hope it works out for you on the football field.

6. Joe Mauer

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    If you're looking for the prototypical high school jock, it was Mauer. In his senior year, he became the only athlete to ever be selected as USA Today's Player of the Year in two sports, baseball and football.

    Not to outdo himself, he was also an All-State selection during his final two years as his high school's starting point guard, averaging more than 20 a game.

    With all the accolades he received as a quarterback in football, you'd think we were talking about the next Joe Montana, but when you get drafted No. 1 overall by your hometown Twins, the choice is all but made for you.

5. Carl Crawford

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    A former All-Star for the Rays—and unfortunate injury-plagued left fielder for the Dodgers —Crawford received scholarships to UCLA for basketball and to Nebraska for football.

    Though his career in Boston didn't go the way he had hoped since signing a 7-year, $142 million contract in 2010, we're sure he's not too regretful of his decision to bypass the other two opportunities to play baseball.

4. Todd Helton

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    It's easy to look at Helton's baseball career and think he could be a Hall of Famer. But had he never been hurt way back when as quarterback of Tennessee's football team, who knows if that sport would be baseball or football.

    After committing to the Vols on a baseball and football scholarship, Helton actually beat out some dude named Peyton Manning to get the starting nod in the mid-90's. Seeing what that kid did, it's safe to say Helton had the goods to help an NFL franchise too.

3. Tony Romo

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    Say what you want about him as a quarterback, but Romo's more than just your average scratch golfer when he's got a driver in his hands.

    Most pro athletes hit the links to break away from the demands of their sport. He does it to try and break into the sport, attempting to qualify for the U.S. Open several times in the past couple of years.

2. Jim Brown

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    Brown's historically respected as the greatest running back in NFL history. That's what happens when you lead the league in rushing eight of the nine years you play.

    Maybe more impressive than his football career though, was his dominance in other sports during his college career at Syracuse.

    Brown played basketball, track and lacrosse, garnering first-team All-American honors after ranking second nationally in scoring following his senior year on the lacrosse team. What a total bro!

1. Dave Winfield

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    There's no argument to be made here, Winfield owns our top spot! 

    Before his Hall of Fame baseball career began, he was actually drafted by four teams in three different sports. That's seriously absurd.

    The Padres took him 4th overall in baseball. The Hawks (NBA) and Stars (ABA) in basketball. Then the Vikings drafted him in football, even though he never played in college.

    When you're talking about athletes who could have dominated other sports, it's pretty clear the only guy to be chosen in four different leagues takes the cake.