Today’s athletes are strong as an ox and fast as gazelle. But thirty years ago, anyone interested in participating in sports were slotted by your height and weight. If you were tall, then you expected to play center in basketball or on the line in football.
Well today, that same person can now be a wide receiver or patrol centerfield for their respective teams. For over 20 years, Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson have been the benchmark for two-sport athletes, as you enjoyed watching them because they loved to compete at any level in sports.
Let’s take a look at seven non-NFL players who would excel in the NFL:
Arguably, LeBron James is the most despised athlete in sports today, but even his biggest critics cannot bash James’ physical stature.
If he had chosen football, LeBron could have easily become a perennial All-Pro tight end in the mold of Antonio Gates. Linebackers would fear his speed because that would allow him to separate himself in the open field.
I could also see James playing the blitzing outside-linebacker position in a 3-4 defense. LeBron is the only athlete that could dominate NFL much in the same way he does in his own sport.
Carl Crawford was a standout high school option quarterback and actually accepted a scholarship to play football at Nebraska. His speed and upper body strength would make him an ideal candidate to play as a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.
Ultimately, Crawford signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Rays to play baseball after hitting .638 in his senior season at Jefferson Davis High School in Houston.
Despite his age, Kobe Bryant can still garner a top spot in this type of poll, and it all due to his incredible athletic ability.
Granted, a lot of mileage has been put on his body from all of the playoff, Olympic appearances and injuries has also slowed him down a bit over the years.
But, his size, speed and vertical jumping ability would make him an impossible target to cover downfield as a wideout.
Joe Mauer is the only high school athlete ever named the Player of the Year in two sports (basketball and football). The gridiron is where he excelled, as Mauer was named the 2001 Gatorade National Player of the Year.
He turned down a scholarship offer to Florida State, and instead signed with his hometown team, the Minnesota Twins, to play baseball. Bobby Bowden felt Mauer has the classic release to play quarterback at the pro level.
CC Sabathia is the ace of the New York Yankees pitching staff, but he also a terrific all-around athlete for a man of his height and weight.
Coming out of high school, Sabathia was an All-Conference tight end and signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Hawaii. No doubt, I could see him playing any position on the offensive line and becoming a dominant blocker with his foot speed and athleticism.
Allen Iverson was an “once in a lifetime” athlete, and arguably, the fastest person to ever play professional sports. He could have excelled at any sport he chose to play. And don’t forget, A.I. had the strongest will to win than anyone on the basketball court.
At Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, Iverson started at quarterback and led his school to a state championship. You figure due to his speed, pro coaches would switch him to the running back position, as Iverson would be a hard to take down out on the open field.
Think of a Danny Woodhead-type of player, only with a little more speed.
Now, you might snicker at this notion, but Kelly Slater is a nine-time surfing champion. He has dominated his sport for over 20 years and his work ethic takes a back seat to no one in professional sports.
Not too many superstars have on their resume that they’re the youngest and oldest world champion in their respective sport. To stay on top in surfing, Slater needs speed, timing and flexibility on the board during a competition.
I have believed Slater would work his way onto a NFL roster, maybe as a special-teamer that has a nose for the football.