The Top 10 Two-Sport Athletes of the Past 25 Years
As we get to the end of March Madness in basketball, the beginning of the Major League Baseball season, and the NFL Draft, I'm brought back to a time when there were showmen in the world of sports that... well, could back up their trash talk.
Some, in more than one arena.
Over the past 25 years we've seen some truly dynamic athletes come and go, some with more success than others. There have been many basketball players that took their abilities into the NFL, and there have been some baseball players that have been solid contributors in other sports as well.
Some took their abilities to the top of one sport, some were cases of promises left unfulfilled. In the case of a few, we were blessed to see them perform at the top of their sport twice.
Some names that didn't make the cut:
Yao Ming in golf
Michael Jordan in baseball (or poker)
LeBron James in football (though I'd like to see it)
Dan Marino in track & field
If I forgot anyone, remind me/us. It's always fun to look back at what was, and imagine what could have been... So, without any futher build up, here's a look back at the Top 10 dual threats from the last 25 years.
Adam Dunn played quarterback at Texas until they recruited Chris Simms.
Mark DeRosa was a quarterback at Penn before his baseball career began in Atlanta.
Darin Erstad was the punter on a National Champion team at Nebraska, and has also won World Series rings as an outfielder.
Chris Weinke was a minor league baseball player before returning to college at Florida State, where he won the Heisman.
Brian Jordan has a decent, albeit short, career as a safety for the Falcons that was abbreviated in favor of playing outfield.
Current White Sox 3B Josh Fields had a nice career as the quarterback at Oklahoma State before committing to baseball.
Antonio Gates turned a college basketball career into a Pro Bowl run as a professional tight end in San Diego.
Current Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija was an All American receiver at Notre Dame before the Cubs paid him to hang up his shoulder pads.
10. Derrek Lee - basketball & baseball
Fun Fact: When Chris Webber called his infamous timeout in the National Championship Game between North Carolina and Michigan, it might have been Lee guarding him if baseball hadn't come calling.
That's right, Lee was to be the small forward in the recruiting class that took Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse to UNC.
9. Kenny Lofton - basketball & baseball
Lofton has been a speedster in baseball now for the better part of two decades, but was close to never playing baseball at all.
He played basketball for Lute Olson at Arizona before leaving to play baseball.
8. Tom Glavine - hockey & baseball
As we look at perhaps the end of Glavine's career, we see a man who was part of, arguably, the best starting rotation of the past three decades.
What many forget, or didn't even know, is that Glavine was once a first round draft pick of the LA Kings.
So in the place of him taking the ball the day after Greg Maddux, he could have been collecting assists from Wayne Gretzky.
7. Todd Helton - football & baseball
Man, how one bad half can change history...
Helton played quarterback at Tennessee, and was the second-string signal caller in the early 90s when the starter went down early in a game. Helton came out and had a mediocre half, and the Volunteers were losing going to the locker room. He was replaced after the half...by a freshman named Peyton Manning.
I'd say Helton's done alright in Colorado as the face of the Rockies' franchise for the past 10-plus years
6. Antwaan Randle El - basketball & football
How many wide receivers in the NFL were recruited by Bobby Knight? Randle El was...to play point guard. And he did for a year, before committing to play quarterback at Indiana. He was a ridiculous offensive weapon on a miserable team and has turned his athletic ability into a nice career as a receiver in the NFL.
5. Julius Peppers - basketball & football
Peppers played on a North Carolina basketball team with current NFL receiver Ronald Curry, and he was a pretty good power forward, too. He could have been a good PF in the NBA, but opted to be a great DE in the NFL. Not a bad choice.
4. Tony Gonzalez - basketball & football
Arguably the best tight end in NFL history was once a pretty good forward at Cal. Where do you think the idea of dunking the football over the goalpost came from?
3. Donovan McNabb - basketball & football
Pop quiz - how many people have ever started at quarterback in the Super Bowl and played in the Final Four?
Donovan McNabb has.
2. Deion Sanders - football & baseball
Ok...so he was a better bunter than hitter, and he could catch, but throwing wasn't his best attribute in the majors.
But Prime Time was the best cornerback to ever play in the NFL, and was a ridiculous enough baseball talent to be a top prospect in the Yankees organization.
1. Bo Jackson - football & baseball
I honestly believe Bo could have led baseball in home runs and the NFL in rushing in the same year.
He was Jim Brown and Andre Dawson in one body—a rocket arm in the outfield and the ability to hit a ball 500 feet from Monday to Saturday, and he'd run over anyone in his path en route to over 100 yards rushing on Sunday afternoon.
The reason I hate the Cincinnati Bengals to this day is because they robbed the sports world of two full careers from Bo.