Jamal Crawford, Joba Chamberlain, Terrell Owens, and Sean Avery: all four athletes switched to another sport, and all four had minimal success. But now there is a second wave of athletes willing to take the same chance.
David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy to New Orleans Saints)
David Beckham has signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints for the 2008 NFL season.
The Saints made the least amount of field goals in the league this year with 15, and had the lowest field goal percentage at 68.2 percent.
Beckham’s transition to the MLS went well, and in his first full season with the L.A. Galaxy, he led his team to the league championship. Beckham’s Galaxy also led the MLS in goals scored. Coincidence? I think not.
But Beckham has grown tired of the MLS. In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Berman, Beckham said, “Football in the States just doesn’t have the appeal I was hoping for, even with a ‘God-like’ player such as myself out there. But this country goes nuts for football. I figured going from taking corner kicks in football to kicking field goals in football shouldn’t be that hard a transition.”
Berman was left a little confused by Beckham’s response. But who knew that just over seven months later, Beckham would break every single-season field goal record, and his New Orleans Saints would win the Super Bowl?
In his first game against Tampa Bay back, Beckham went 8-for-8, hitting four field goals from 50+ yards. One of those 50-yarders included a strike from 65 yards away, breaking the old NFL record of 63 yards.
The first field goal Beckham hit was from 52 yards away. He struck the ball roughly 15 feet wide right, and then suddenly, as if grabbed by some mythological wind, the ball bent 25 feet back in the other direction and went through the uprights. Beckham ran toward the sideline and slid on his chest in celebration.
The celebration was baffling to Beckham’s teammates at first, but it eventually caught on. After returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the third quarter, Reggie Bush ran to midfield and slid on his knees into the Saints’ symbol.
The Super Bowl matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals was left on the foot of Beckham with just two seconds left on the clock. The superstar nailed a 54-yard field goal, like it was a chip shot, to win the game 12-10.
Beckham joined Mark Moseley of the 1982 Washington Redskins to become only the second placekicker to win the NFL MVP award. When Beckham collected his award, he had this to say: “I now have a newfound respect for football in America. I never thought football could make it in the States, but now I see it has a chance.”
Jason Giambi (New York Yankees to Cincinnati Bengals)
Jason Giambi appeared to have resurrected his career in the 2008 MLB regular season. He finished with 32 home runs, 101 RBI, and most importantly, a .302 batting average.
Everything looked to be headed in the right direction for the 37-year-old Giambi, until shortly before the playoffs began when a steroid test came back positive. It appeared Giambi’s career was officially tarnished for good, until a new direction showed itself to the slugger in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals.
On October 21, 2008, the Bengals signed Giambi to a one-year contract, worth approximately $8.4 million. The contract makes Giambi the highest paid linebacker in the NFL.
Last season, the Bengals’ defense finished dead last in the NFL in sacks with 22. They hoped Giambi would add to those totals. As it turns out, the Bengals made a great choice.
When Cincinnati acquired Giambi, they were 3-4 and looked as if they would fall quite short of the playoffs. But the “Great Slambino,” as he is now being called, finished his 10 games with 19 sacks and his Bengals finished the season 11-5.
After a tough loss to David Beckham’s Saints in the Super Bowl, Giambi was not distraught, but rather optimistic about his possible future in this sport. ESPN’s John Clayton had a chance to sit down with Giambi after the season’s conclusion.
John Clayton (JC): Jason, it’s no secret, you had a great season with Bengals. What do you think about another season with the team?
Jason Giambi (JG): I understand I’m not that young, in terms of football, but this season proves that I can still compete. I felt that I had an extra edge over the competition. I was able to out-muscle a lot of big guys out there, and I just knew that quarterback was toast.
JC: There were many allegations at the season’s ending about further steroid use once you entered the NFL. What do you have to say to that?
JG: I’m sorry for what I did when I was in New York, and Oakland. But that’s all behind me now. Plus, steroids wouldn’t have allowed me to chase down someone like Ben Rothliswhatever. Steroids don’t affect speed; that was all me.
JC: When you talk about “what you did,” you mean steroids?
JG: Well, just for the stuff I did.
JC: All right. You’ve lost in the World Series before, but what was it like to lose in a single elimination game like the Super Bowl?
JG: It was tough. Beckham’s got a foot. When he first hit that winner, it looked like it was going to go wide by quite a bit—we had already started celebrating—but then it bent right through the posts. It was a tough loss. Next season will be different though. That Beckham is French toast (laughs).
JC: But he’s English.
JG: Well, then, I guess he’s a muffin.
Tiger Woods (PGA Tour to Pittsburgh Penguins)
“I don’t think anybody really watches hockey anymore.” Tiger Woods’ comments about the NHL have certainly come back to haunt him.
Tiger may think that no one watches hockey, but after the U.S. Open, it was obvious that hockey was watching him.
The hockey gods took a couple of holes off, namely No. 17 on the third day of the tournament, allowing Woods to squeak past Rocco Mediate to collect another Championship, but the championship celebration did not last long.
Just two days after his win at Torrey Pines, Woods announced that he would undergo season-ending knee surgery.
Just two days after the announcement of his knee surgery, Tiger realized that it may have been divine intervention from the hockey gods that caused the pain in his knee, not the cartilage damage that the doctors told him it was.
The realization caused Tiger to take more than a season off from the PGA tour. “I can come back and win a few events, and break some records along the way, but right now, my calling is hockey. I feel that I need to repay the hockey gods for the comments I made.
"They taught me a valuable lesson, and thankfully did not hurt my knee so that it could not be repaired. I plan to help the sport develop and bring a new level of interest with me.”
And so, after a successful surgery on his knee, Tiger took to the ice to bring a championship home to a team with tremendous potential: the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby embraced his new teammate with open arms: “I may not be the most recognizable face in the sport anymore, but I could care less if he helps us win the Cup.”
Due to his surgery, Tiger could not lace up the skates until mid-November, but the Penguins went 10-6-1 in his absence.
On Nov. 13, 2008, Tiger Woods took his first shift against the New York Rangers. Tiger played alongside Sergei Gonchar on defense, and it took him little time to make a difference.
Just over one minute into the game, Sid “the Kid” dropped a pass back to Gonchar, who slid it over to Woods, who ripped a one-timer past Henrik Lundqvist. The slap shot was clocked at 106.8 mph.
Tiger went on to record a hat trick in his first game, and also assisted on a goal. The assist came after one of his slap shots hit Lundqvist directly in the chest, knocking him back, leaving him short of breath, and leaving the puck on the stick of Crosby, who buried it into the open net.
After the game, Tiger was asked what kind of stick he was using. “It was a Nike, of course. But I’ll tell you, that ball sure felt like a Titleist.”
Six months later, the Penguins were the Stanley Cup Champions, beating the same Detroit Red Wings who had beaten them just one year earlier. Detroit goalie, Chris Osgood, had nothing but praise for Tiger.
“His drive, I mean, his shot, is just devastating. He always hits his spots. Even without a tee, he just drives, I mean, shoots the puck into the top of the net on command.”
Tiger finished the season with 89 goals, falling just three short of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record. He also collected 42 assists, a +96 rating, and an MVP trophy. The only disappointment for Tiger and the Penguins, is that he will not be back for another season.
“I think that the hockey gods and I are quite even. They said they wanted a cup in Pittsburgh, and I delivered. I gave them higher ratings than they ever could have imagined. Then they asked me if I could do away with Gary Bettman, but I told them I’m not a god; I’m simply Tiger Woods.”