Leo Messi and 10 Soccer Stars Who Could Have Thrived in the NFL
What if world soccer stars had grown up playing American football?
It's an interesting thought.
Say David Beckham grew up in Southern California instead of England. With that face, don't you think he would have been the quarterback of his local high school football team?
OK, maybe not. But you get the idea: It's fun to imagine an alternate reality for some of our favorite athletes, regardless of where they're from or how well they'd fare in another sport.
We've always heard the scenario the other way around, though. Every time the US National Team loses a high-profile match, everyone says the same thing: American soccer isn't as good as it could be because the best athletes play other sports.
Forget all that for now. Let's talk about world soccer stars who could cross over to the gridiron.
This might be easier than you think. Not all American football stars stand 6'6" and weigh 300 pounds. Some are just as average in height and weight as you and me. Athletic ability is where they make up the difference.
Some American football stars are, of course, impressive physical specimens. But we've got that covered, too.
Ready? Let's go.
Name: Lionel Messi
Suggested NFL Position: Return specialist
Role Model: Devin Hester
Why: Have you seen Messi move?
If not, check it out.
If so, you're not arguing at all. You know exactly why Messi would be a perfect return specialist.
He has the body control, field awareness, speed and balance necessary to make defenders miss.
Bonus thought: Let's get this out of the way early. Leo Messi, and every other player on this list, could also be a kicker.
If you play soccer, you can kick a field goal.
It's kind of like how all guitarists can also play bass. It's the same thing, only with fewer intricacies.
Name: Cristiano Ronaldo
Suggested NFL Position: Diva wide receiver
Role Model: Terrell Owens
Why: Cristiano Ronaldo is all about No. 1. And that's your stereotypical NFL wide receiver.
Seriously, this is a perfect match. Imagine Crissy getting like two receptions for 15 yards in a big divisional game, then taking to Twitter to say something like, "Just give me the damn ball!"
Plus, if he gained about 25 pounds (he's already ripped), Crissy might have the weight to withstand the punishment dished out by defensive backs on crossing patterns.
He'll have to stop crying, though.
Name: Tim Howard
Suggested NFL Position: Defensive back/emergency quarterback
Role Model: Charles Woodson
Why: He's American. He's 6'3", 210 and he's a goalkeeper.
The first part means he already knows the game.
The second part means he's got the size to play.
The third part means he knows how to read an offense.
Name: Xavi Hernandez
Suggested NFL Position: Quarterback
Role Model: Doug Flutie
Xavi pulls the strings for Barcelona, the best team in the world. He reads the game better than anyone (with the possible exception of his teammate Andres Iniesta, who just doesn't look the part of an NFL quarterback unless we're talking Jeff Garcia).
And he couldn't be any worse than this guy.
Weight: At least 250
Suggested NFL Position: Lineman
Role Model: Leon Lett
Why: A quarterback can't do his thing without the hosses manning the offensive line.
Ronaldo, the original one, qualifies.
Nigel De Jong
Name: Nigel de Jong
Suggested NFL Position: Linebacker/fullback
Role Model: Tim Riggins
Why: You want your linebackers to be a little bit crazy. Nigel de Jong is a little bit crazy.
You want your fullbacks to be tough and fearless. Nigel de Jong is, well, he's a little bit crazy.
Name: Christopher Samba
Suggested NFL Position: Anything
Role Model: None
Why: Aren't you scared of him? I am.
Look at what he can do in a soccer uniform. Imagine all the things he could do for a football team.