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20 Athletes You May Not Know Starred in Other Sports

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2013

20 Athletes You May Not Know Starred in Other Sports

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    Life isn't fair sometimes, is it?

    While regular Joes like you and me play sports from an early age through high school, hoping to continue into college, some athletes are blessed with so much talent that they actually have multiple sports they excel in.

    We've seen guys like Bo Jackson and John Elway get drafted by both NFL and MLB teams before, so we compiled a list of some other guys you may not have known starred in other sports too.

Honorable Mention: Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson

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    OK, so these two top-four picks in the most recent NFL draft might not have been multi-sport stars, but considering where both started in their college football careers, we felt like we had to mention them.

    No. 1 pick Eric Fisher was a skinny, 2-star recruit who played at Central Michigan at multiple positions along the line, displaying the versatility to become the No. 1 choice.

    As for the former Oklahoma Sooner Lane Johnson, he actually began his college career as quarterback and tight end, then switched to defensive end before finally finding his spot along the O-line.

    It might still be the same sport, but come on, these two are no less than 300 pounds, so that's pretty impressive.

Tom Glavine

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    Yes, the presumed future MLB Hall of Famer may have won over 300 games in his storied career, displaying a perfect touch on his pitches rather than running up the numbers on the speed gun.

    Before trying to win Cy Young awards, though, Tom Glavine was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 draft as the 69th overall pick, actually ahead of hockey Hall of Famers Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, showing just how respected the lefty was in that sport.

Herschel Walker

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    Many of us know Herschel Walker as the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner, who etched his names among the greatest athletes to ever play collegiate sports.

    Some of us may not remember his football days, but do know about the MMA fights he's participated in.

    But did you know he actually swapped the football helmet for a bobsled helmet in 1992, where he competed in the Winter Olympics with Team USA?

Carl Crawford

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    Now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the former All-Star outfielder has made headlines in the past week after saying he doesn't think he smiled once in his two years in Boston, where he signed a huge deal that he never lived up to.

    But had he not decided to leave his positions in basketball and football, where he was recruited by UCLA and Nebraska, respectively, he would have never ended up in Fenway in the first place.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

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    Dwayne Johnson may be one of the biggest draws on TV or film these days, but before becoming an action star, he proved to have many other talents.

    These included his professional wrestling career—where many of us know him from—but he also was part of the Miami Hurricanes' 1991 national championship team, where he backed-up future NFL Hall of Famer Warren Sapp along the defensive line.

Pat Riley

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    We're not sure there isn't anything the multi-talented Pat Riley can't do.

    By bringing together three of the best players in basketball back in 2010, he proved to be a master salesman. He not only won a NBA title as a player, but he's also added five while a head coach, and another one as an executive.

    And now this—he was pretty damn good at football too.

    Selected in the first round by the San Diego Rockets in the 1967 NBA draft, Riley was also drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the NFL draft in the same year.

Michael Vick

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    Generally considered to have one of the strongest arms in all of professional football, Michael Vick can sling it with the best of them.

    Seeing that he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies back in 2000 as a pitcher—after four years away from the mound—maybe we shouldn't be so surprised?

    Just goes to show how freakish of an athlete Vick really is.

Golden Tate

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    Thus far in his NFL career, Golden Tate is probably best known for his Hail Mary grab during last season's Monday Night Football debacle by the replacement refs.

    And though he's a solid receiver who's still growing, when he was in high school, Tate had the option to become a star baseball player. Drafted in the 42nd round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, Tate was almost using his agility on a baseball field instead.

Kris Humphries

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    Though there aren't too many people who enjoy Kris Humphries' company—making this posterization even more gratifying—the Nets big man still has some skills.

    Not only is Humphries more than a respectable option on the court, but there was a time that he was actually a better swimmer than master Olympian Michael Phelps in the pool.

    Yes, you read that correctly: The former Mr. Kim Kardashian's entire life could have been different had he chosen swimming over basketball.

J. J. Watt

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    Before butting heads with other guys along the line, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year lettered in baseball, basketball and track during his high school career and was the state champ of Wisconsin in shot putt as a senior.

    As great as he was in those sports, his first love was hockey, which he played for 10 years before quitting to focus on the sports mentioned above.

    It's pretty obvious after seeing his opening pitch for the Astros earlier this year that Watt isn't a rookie at throwing the baseball, though he's a lot better at football if you ask us.

Colin Kaepernick

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    Before Colin Kaepernick was "Kaepernicking" in end zones to celebrate his touchdowns, the current San Francisco 49ers quarterback was showing how great of an athlete he is in other sports.

    Not only was he drafted in the 43rd round of the MLB draft by the Cubs to pitch for them—thanks to his two-time All-State nods—but he also starred on his high school basketball team in addition to leading the huddle on the football field.

    Niners fans sure are happy he chose the whole football route.

Wilt Chamberlain

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    Wilt Chamberlain really did have it all.

    On top of the rumored thousands of ladies he bedded, the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history—and arguably the best center to ever play—was a multi-sport athlete in his heyday as well.

    "The Stilt" played volleyball in the since defunct IVA for the Seattle Smashers from 1974–79 and went to Kansas on a track and basketball scholarship before also being offered professional boxing and football opportunities.

Robert Griffin III

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    After Robert Griffin III took home multiple NFL awards following his first season with the Redskins—including Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl invite—it's obvious he's playing the right sport.

    But RG3 can thank his track background for the wheels he displays on the football field.

    As a track star in high school, Griffin set Texas records in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. In his freshman year at Baylor, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner competed full-time on the Bears track team, earning All-American status.

    He also qualified for and participated in the 2008 U.S. Olympic trials, running the 400-meter hurdles.

Tony Gwynn

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    The former San Diego Padres great and current San Diego State manager, Tony Gwynn may best be remembered for his more than 3,000 hits and .338 career batting average—good enough for 20th in major league history—but before making the decision to play on the diamond, he almost opted for the hardwood.

    As a guard on the Aztecs basketball team, Gwynn was named to the WAC's all-conference second team before deciding he wasn't physically ready to grind with some of the bigger bodies on the court—but that didn't stop him from getting drafted by both the San Diego Clippers and the Padres on the same day back in 1981.

Allen Iverson

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    With a career 26.7 ppg average, one thing that Allen Iverson could do was put the rock through the net.

    But before he went to Georgetown and became the NBA's No. 1 overall pick in 1996, Iverson was a dual-threat quarterback on his high school football team, earning the Associated Press High School Player of the Year award in both football and basketball, then adding the Division AAA Virginia state championship in both sports.

    Yes, A.I. could have been Michael Vick before Michael Vick was.

Bo Jackson

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    Comparable to the aforementioned Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson is widely thought of as one of the greatest athletes to ever live.

    Blessed with speed, power, agility and hand-eye coordination, Jackson dominated pretty much any sport he played.

    As a former Heisman trophy winner, All-Pro NFL running back and MLB All-Star, he proved that it was possible to balance two pro sports.

    Hell, the guy even played in a semi-pro basketball team in Los Angeles before returning to baseball in the mid '90s.

    It's too bad he got injured, robbing us of what could have been.

Tom Brady

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    Before being the Golden Boy on the football field, Tom Brady contemplated whether or not he'd be commanding the huddle or slinging baseballs.

    Drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the MLB draft, he decided to head to the University of Michigan to play football instead.

    Seeing that he'll be enshrined in Canton one day, we'd say he made a pretty damn good choice.

Jim Brown

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    Each time we think of Jim Brown, we're amazed.

    Not only is he typically respected as the greatest running back to ever play the game—leading the league in rushing eight of his nine seasons—but besides his dominating skills on the gridiron, he showed that he had some talent in other sports during his collegiate career at Syracuse as well.

    Brown played basketball, track and lacrosse for the Orange, earning first-team All-American honors after ranking second nationally in scoring following his senior year for the lacrosse team.

Deion Sanders

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    There's one thing that was very clear about Deion Sanders when he played—anywhere he went, his teams did well.

    We all know "Prime Time" played professional baseball and football at the same time in the mid '90s, but he was just too good not to mention here.

    As the only athlete to ever play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series, Sanders enjoyed a ton of success as a pro athlete.

    If that's not enough to prove how good he was, he also ran track and played basketball in high school—why are we not surprised?

Dave Winfield

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    For a guy to be drafted by four teams in three different sports, he'd have to be pretty damn talented.

    That's exactly what happened to MLB Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who was selected No. 4 overall by the Padres in MLB, then by the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA, the Utah Stars in the ABA and, weirdly enough, by the Minnesota Vikings—even though he never played football in college.

    We know scouts don't always get it right, but if enough people thought Winfield could excel in three major sports, we have a feeling he would have been successful.

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