The Ultimate Slashers: 50 Athletes Who Could Have Played a Different Sport

Austin SchindelAnalyst IIFebruary 2, 2011

The Ultimate Slashers: 50 Athletes Who Could Have Played a Different Sport

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    We see our favorite athletes on TV every night and marvel at their talents. From their college days to the drafts, we follow these players and think that we have seen all they have to offer. But little do we know, there are athletes within the athletes. Some of the best basketball, football and baseball players in the world are actually better...at different sports! 

    On this list are 50 athletes who have the skills to play a completely different sport. It's hard to imagine LeBron James lining up at WR for the Patriots or Steve Nash leading a charge and setting up a beautiful header. 

    Alas...here are the 50 athletes who could have played a different sport.

50. Babe Didrikson

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    Didrikson is considered one of the best all-around women's athletes ever. She won many LPGA events and was an All-American basketball player.

    Unfortunately for her, there was no WNBA at the time and she was not able to display her talents past college. 

49. Mickey McCarty

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    McCarty was one of three people to ever be drafted by teams in three different sports. In 1968, he was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth round of the NFL-AFL draft, by the Chicago Bulls in the 14th round of the NBA draft, by the Dallas Chaparrals in the ABA draft and by the Cleveland Indians in the 25th round of the baseball draft. 

48. Daunte Culpepper

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    Culpepper was one of the best quarterbacks in the league for the Vikings. While his production has gone down over the years, he was one of the best high school quarterbacks in the country during his reign.

    He also played baseball in high school and was drafted by the New York Yankees. Culpepper chose football over baseball and went on to have a successful run. 

47. Brooks Bollinger

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    Bollinger was an average NFL QB, and maybe he should tried another sport. He was drafted twice by the Los Angeles Dodgers, both times in the 50th round.

46. Dave Logan

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    A former Cleveland Brown, Logan was one of only three people to ever be drafted by three different sports. Logan was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Sacramento Kings and Cincinnati Reds. 

45. Chris Drury

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    Chris Drury is a 12-year NHL veteran playing for the New York Rangers. But little do most people know, Drury started for his 1989 Little League World Series champion team from Trumbull, Connecticut.

    In the championship game, he threw a complete game five-hitter and drove in two runs. While his hockey career prevailed, he showed some serious baseball skills at a young age.

44. Allen Iverson

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    Iverson was a football standout in high school, quarterbacking the state championship team. Standing at barely 6'0" tall, he wouldn't be the shortest quarterback the NFL has ever seen, but it's hard imagining Iverson doing anything besides crossing people up.

43. Bob Gibson

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    We all know Gibson as one of the most feared pitchers in major league history. He is a former Cy Young and MVP Award winner and is revered for his powerful style. But before he was brushing back hitters, he was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters from 1957-1958.

    Imagine if we were remembering him for his trick passes and dunks instead of knocking down the league's best.

42. Michael Vick

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    One of the more surprising players on this list, Vick never played an inning of baseball at Virginia Tech, but was drafted in the 30th round of the 2000 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. Think Carl Crawford, but faster. 

41. Tim Duncan

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    You would not think of Tim Duncan as anything besides one of the best power forwards of all time, but growing up, Duncan was a swimmer growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    He only began his basketball career in the ninth grade after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only Olympic sized pool in the area, ending his Olympic dreams. I guess we are lucky that the forces of nature took over, so we could see this all-time great. 

40. Pat Riley

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    Riley, considered one of the best coaches of all time, was not completely invested in basketball. He played football at the University of Kentucky and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft.

39. Matt Moore

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    Matt Moore's football career has been rocky to say the least. While he is still a quarterback on the Carolina Panthers roster for now, he soon may be looking for a new job. Luckily for him, football has not always been his only sport.

    In 2004, Moore was drafted in the 22nd round by the Anaheim Angels after playing in the Southern California semi-pro baseball league. He played throughout high school and could conceivably try his hand again if the opportunity presents itself.

38. Mark DeRosa

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    At Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey, DeRosa was an All-State baseball and football player. He was the quarterback for the University of Pennsylvania from 1993-1995 and played both football and baseball until he was drafted by the Braves in the seventh round of the 1996 MLB Draft.

37. Jerry Rice

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    Jerry Rice is the best receiver in NFL history, so it's inconceivable to think that there is another sport that could possibly take his time away from him. But, believe it or not, golf has been a sport that Rice has been practicing ever since his playing days in San Francisco.

    He would wake up before practice to work on his shot, and even entered tournaments now that he has retired. Rice is one of the hardest workers in NFL history, so it's not too hard to think that he would have eventually been on top of the golf world as well.

36. John Havlicek

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    Imagining the Celtics without Havlicek is mind boggling. But, Havlicek was in Cleveland Browns training camp in 1962 as a wide receiver, and until after that experience, he was actually not sure which way his athletic career was going to go. I think Red Auerbach was rather happy with his decision.

35. Jackie Robinson

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    Most know Robinson for his work breaking the color barrier in baseball. Most don't that he was a very skilled athlete in more than just baseball.

    In high school, he played point guard on the basketball team, shortstop on the baseball team and quarterback on the football team, in addition to running track. His additions to the baseball world are significant, but his skills stretched well beyond the baseball diamond. 

34. Dan Marino

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    Marino was a gunslinger. This apparently translates across sports because he was drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Royals in the 1979 amateur draft. He did not accept the invitation, and decided to play college football instead; the rest is history.

33. Cris Carter

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    Cris Carter attended The Ohio State University where he was a All-American wide receiver. In high school, he was a highly recruited basketball star as well, and intended on playing basketball before fully committing to football. 

32. Terrelle Pryor

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    Pryor is the current quarterback at The Ohio State University, but before that in high school, he was a gifted basketball player. He was thinking about pursuing his basketball career at the University of Pittsburgh but instead decided to go play for Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes.

    At OSU, though talented, Tressel would not let Pryor play on the university's basketball team.

31. Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady has become of one the best quarterbacks of all time. But before he developed into the player he is today, he was drafted in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. Who knows, maybe he would have taken that late round selection and we would be taking about Tom Brady as the best third baseman of all time?

30. Kenny Lofton

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    Lofton's speed translated into many stolen bases over the course of his career; this was no different in basketball. He was part of the 1988 Arizona Wildcats Final Four team and set school records in steals.

    He began playing baseball as a junior and honed his skills in the minor leagues. He chose the baseball route after college and never looked back.

29. Derrek Lee

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    Lee's 6'5" frame make him an ideal first baseman, a big target that is athletic and can make long stretches. Apparently North Carolina head coach Dean Smith thought the same thing. Despite being drafted in the first round of the 1993 draft, Lee was recruited to play at UNC as a point guard.

28. Antwaan Randle El

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    Speed, accuracy and a strong arm are all valued qualities of a quarterback...and maybe an outfield too. Randle El was drafted out of high school in the 1997 MLB Draft, but turned it down to play at The University of Indiana.

    Oh, and did I mention that he holds the Illinois state single game scoring record with 69 points in a basketball game?

27. Toby Gerhart

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    The Minnesota Vikings' bruising running back wasn't always running over his opponents. Besides being at the top of his class academically, Gerhart was an outfielder for the Stanford Cardinals baseball team and was offered to play professional baseball after the 2009 season, but turned it down to return for his senior year and play football. 

26. Sheldon Brown

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    Cleveland Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown played four years a the University of South Carolina and three as a starter. He played baseball his senior year for the Gamecocks baseball team.

25. Pat McAfee

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    The former West Virginia product was also a soccer player in college and participated in many Olympic development programs overseas during high school. He is now the punter and kickoff specialist for the Indianapolis Colts, but for a while he had aspirations to play soccer at the Olympic level. 

24. Tony Gonzalez

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    Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates are cut from the same cloth. Gonzalez was a high school basketball and football standout and took his talents to Cal-Berkeley, where he played on both teams. He eventually focused on football and has become one of, if not the best tight end of all time. 

23. Julius Peppers

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    Peppers served as a key reserve for the Tar Heels' 1999-00 and 2000-01 squads and played well during the NCAA Tournament. He was highly recruited to play basketball for Mike Krzyzewski but turned it down so he could play football. He would eventually turn to football and plays in the NFL today.

22. Joe Thomas

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    Joe Thomas is great at pushing people around. At the University of Wisconsin, he perfected the art in more than just football. The All-Pro was a member of the track and field team, and excelled in shot put. He holds the school indoor record in the shot put with a 62’01¼” toss in 2005.

21. Golden Tate

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    Golden Tate, the former Fighting Irish and now current Seattle Seahawks receiver, was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Instead of moving to the minor leagues, Tate joined the University of Notre Dame's baseball and football teams.

    He was chosen in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft and the 50th round of the MLB Draft. He has since stuck with the football course and plans to remain there and have a successful NFL career.

20. Terrell Owens

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    In his early years and in college at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Owens played basketball. His height and athleticism were great advantages to him and you can see him playing in many charity and celebrity games.

    He was set to play in a 2005 summer league for the Sacramento Kings before the Eagles told him he was not allowed to, but Owens certainly has a love for the game. 

19. Dave Winfield

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    Winfield was a super athlete. There wasn't anything he couldnt do, and all you have to do is look at his credentials to see why he is ranked as one of the top all-around athletes of all time.  Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports.

    The San Diego Padres selected him as a pitcher with the fourth overall pick in the MLB Draft, and the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) drafted him. And even though he never played college football, he was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 17th round of the NFL Draft. He is one of three players ever to be drafted by four professional sports leagues. 

18. Donavan McNabb

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    McNabb was the Big East Offensive Player of the Year three straight years in football. Little is made of his contributions as a basketball player as a reserve for two seasons, including Syracuse's 1996 Championship game loss to Kentucky. 

17. Jack Del Rio

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    Del Rio, the current head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was a former NFL linebacker and a member of the USC Trojans. Before his days at USC, he was picked by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1981 MLB Draft. Del Rio turned down the offer to play football and went on to have an 11-year NFL career.

16. Tony Romo

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    Romo is much more well known for his postseason mishaps and the women he dates, but he has become a well-known amateur golfer who has attempted to make the U.S. Open and the Byron Nelson Championship. He is a ways away from going pro, but life after football looks good for Romo.

15. Stephen Neal

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    Neal became a football star, but not before trying his hand in wrestling. He almost qualified for the Olympics in Sydney, Australia in 2000 but was edged out and retired from wrestling.

    He is now a guard for the New England Patriots and has used his wrestling skills to become one of the more solid Patriots this decade. 

14. Charlie Ward

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    Ward is known very well for his parts in the Knicks-Heat brawls of the late 90s, but before that, he was a 1993 Heisman Trophy Winner. Ward, who also played baseball and tennis, chose basketball over the NFL and became a solid contributor to the New York Knicks teams that battled a tough Eastern Conference during the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

13. John Elway

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    The 1979 MLB Draft was the year of the QB. Both Elway and Marino were drafted by the Kansas City Royals, but they turned down them both down for college. Elway ended up going to Stanford University, were he played baseball and football.

    He was selected first overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Colts, but threatened to keep playing in the Yankees' minor league system, which he had already done for two summers, unless the Colts traded his rights away. The Colts traded him to Denver, and Elway never played baseball again. 

12. Tony Gwynn

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    Gwynn still stands as one of the most consistent and best hitters of all time. His .338 career batting average has cemented him in the Hall of Fame and given him the title of one of baseball's best. While at San Diego State University, he also operated on the basketball court as a standout point guard. He set the school record in assists in a season. 

    The same day the Padres drafted him, Gwynn was also selected by the NBA's San Diego Clippers in the 10th round. 

11. Kirk Gibson

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    Gibson is best known for his 1988 World Series game winning walk-off home run against Dennis Eckersley. But not many people know that he began his career in football. Gibson attended Michigan State University, where he earned All-American honors as a wide receiver.

    His football coach eventually convinced him to college baseball; he went on to hit .390 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 48 games.

    He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of that year's draft and the seventh round by the Arizona Cardinals. Thank you Coach Rodgers for pushing Gibson to baseball, or else we would never have, "I dont believe what I just saw."

10. Scott Burrell

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    Many know Burrell as a role player on Jordan's Chicago Bulls teams, but pound for pound, he might be one of the more gifted athletes in a decade. He was drafted several times by Major League Baseball teams, and had his mind set on going to the University of Miami to play football and baseball.

    Instead he went UConn to play basketball. From there, his basketball career took off, leaving the other two in the dust. Who knows what could have happened if he had chosen a different path? But then again, isn't that the entire point of this slideshow?

9. Carl Crawford

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    The new Boston Red Sox outfielder wasnt always set on playing baseball. The three-sport athlete had many different offers in all different places.

    Crawford was offered scholarships to play basketball at UCLA, football at Nebraska, USC, Oklahoma, Florida and Tulsa, and he originally signed a letter of intent to play football for Nebraska before changing his mind to play baseball. 

8. Jake Locker

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    Jake Locker is one of the top prospects for the 2011 NFL Draft. He has always found success as a big, athletic QB who can both throw and run for production. What people may not know is that Locker was a standout pitcher and outfielder for his high school and played for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.

    More recently, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

7. Antonio Gates

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    Gates is a member of the NFL's 2000s All-Decade Team, a nice honor for a guy who was not a football player in college. Gates' 6'4" frame makes him an ideal candidate for tight end, but NBA scouts did not think that he had the size needed to compete.

    Gates was a standout at Kent State, averaging 20 points per game in his final season. The Chargers are very thankful that a few scouts showed their doubts.

6. Tom Glavine

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    It's hard to think of Tom Glavine as anyone but a guy who paints corners and wins baseball games. But once upon a time, Glavine was a star hockey player as well. 

    Glavine was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1984 NHL Draft and by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 1984 MLB Draft. Glavine chose to play baseball, and we were forever deprived of seeing him knock someone out.

5. Jeff Samardzija

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    Samardzija's decision to pick baseball over football has not be as successful as he had hoped. The Cubs right-hander has been back and forth between the majors and minors, and has yet to really find his way.

    At Notre Dame, he was an All-American wide receiver, and while he intended on playing both sports professionally at first, he ended up playing baseball. Only time will tell if this was the right decision. 

4. Jim Brown

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    Jim Brown was one of the best bruising running backs in NFL history. While at Syracuse, he used his talent of running over people for a different reason: lacrosse. In addition, during high school, he lettered 13 times, including averaging a Long Island-record 38 points per game for his basketball team.

3. Joe Mauer

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    Despite being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 MLB Draft, Mauer had many other options. He averaged more than 20 points per game as a starting point guard, and he is the only player to ever be named the USA Today High School player of the year in two different sports.

    He turned down a scholarship at Florida State to go play for the Twins, and is now one of the best hitters in baseball.

2. Steve Nash

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    Nash grew up playing soccer and ice hockey before taking up basketball at age 12. He went on to play his college basketball at Santa Clara and was drafted by the Phoenix Suns.

    He has proclaimed that he would have tried to play professional soccer if he had not followed a basketball path. I think he made the right choice.

1. LeBron James

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    LeBron James' high school days were well documented. He was a basketball phenomenon who entered the NBA Draft right out of high school, and the rest is history.

    But while at St. Vincent-St. Mary's High School, he played football. In his sophomore year, he was named a first-team all-state wide receiver, and in his junior year helped lead his team to the state semifinals.