Tim Tebow and the Top 10 Athletes Who Could Excel at Another Sport
Tim Tebow has made headlines for a litany of reasons. He was a college football superstar at Florida, he’s an outspoken Christian, he’s done numerous charitable events, he’s played in the NFL, he’s appeared as a college football commentator on television and he’s even been part of a home improvement show.
The guy has done it all, and on top of still thinking he could be an “effective” quarterback in the NFL, there are now reports out that he feels he could play in Major League Baseball, as well.
The media outpouring has been strong on both sides, with some suggesting Tebow is a physical specimen and should be able to attempt to do whatever he wants, while others feel showing up for baseball tryouts out of nowhere at almost 29 years old is a slap in the face to other minor league players.
— MLB (@MLB) August 9, 2016
One thing we know for sure, however, is it’s very interesting.
Let’s keep in mind that Tebow does have a reasonably strong throwing arm, he is built like a lumberjack and he was a bit of a stud hitter in high school before taking on football for good. If Tebow brings the focus he had for football, it’s not crazy to imagine him making a minor league team and then getting an opportunity (albeit probably brief) from a low level club that needs help with ticket sales or doesn’t see the harm in checking the guy out.
Tebow probably isn’t long for baseball, but it will be fun to track and this latest buzz has us thinking; what other star athletes could realistically consider a different sports career? Here’s our top-10:
Note: To keep things relevant, we kept our focus on active star athletes.
Joe Mauer (MLB to ???)
Mauer was your classic high school star, as he truly thrived in all three of the major sports – baseball, football and basketball. Now slowly exiting his prime, it’s tough to see Mauer truly thriving at any other sport, but at one point he had the world at his disposal.
Mauer’s hometown Minnesota Twins drafting him back when he was set to make a difficult decision made life really easy for him, but it’s worth wondering if he’d have had as much success if he chased a career in the NFL or NBA, as well.
Mauer isn’t the only baseball star who was a natural at other sports growing up. Matt Holliday (football) and Carl Crawford (football and basketball) were also well-rounded athletes that had an opportunity to take their careers in a different direction. All three wisely chose the sport they were probably best at, but Holliday once had a chance to play wide receiver for the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Crawford had scholarship opportunities from UCLA and Nebraska.
John Wall (NBA to ???)
You can’t teach speed or athleticism, and John Wall has both in spades. It’s one thing to have an NBA skill-set and be able to do as you please with your body, but Wall has natural athletic instincts, great size for any sport and the short and long speed to probably try his hand just about anywhere athletically.
Wall’s speed and short area burst could be used as a play-maker on an NFL field, as a fielder and base-runner in football or as a striker in soccer. Wall has never shown any real interest to explore where else his talents could take him athletically, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t.
Serena Williams (Tennis to ???)
Williams is easily the top women’s tennis player in the world today and when she finally calls it a career, she’ll likely be the best female tennis player of all-time. Even aside from her pro tennis accomplishments and skill-set, however, she is one of the best physical specimens of her generation.
If Williams were playing other sports at a young age, she could have had a chance at pursuing just about any athletic path. Given her size, strength and natural athleticism, Williams could have starred in softball, basketball, soccer or just about any other sport. Skill-set would be the only question remaining, as Williams has the body, heart and drive to accomplish anything at a remarkably high level.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Soccer to NFL)
Another amazing athlete that could probably play a number of sports is soccer legend, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is such a futbol stud that people that don’t even watch soccer know his name and can recognize him in the media.
In addition to being a huge icon and a sensational soccer player, Ronaldo is so physically gifted and remarkably fit that he could easily give basketball or pro football a shot. It’s not clear if he has the skill-set needed to thrive as a point guard in the NBA, but there is little doubt Ronaldo has the speed and athleticism to give it a go as an NFL play-maker.
Even if Ronaldo wasn’t the explosive athlete we thought he’d be on the pro football field, his soccer background and immense leg strength makes him a viable pro kicker option. Once he’s about done with soccer, NFL teams should at least kick the tires and see if he’s interested. After all, the soccer stud is still just 31 years old.
Michael Vick (NFL to MLB)
Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Johnny Manziel and so many others could take this spot, but Vick may be the biggest name of this four-pack and he was the first to both arrive in the NFL and get legit interest from MLB clubs.
Vick is past his prime in all regards, but his athleticism and arm strength arguably still rival some of the top athletes in the world. Drafted back in 2000 as a pitcher by the Colorado Rockies, Vick could have tried his hand at baseball before becoming an NFL star. Who knows, maybe he could pull a Tim Tebow and set up some tryouts before retiring from sports for good.
Brock Lesnar (Wrestling/MMA to NFL)
Lesnar already gave pro football a try and failed, but he remains one of the best physical specimens on the planet and has thrived in amateur and pro wrestling, as well as MMA fighting.
Lesnar has the size, brute strength and athleticism to compete at anything he puts his mind to, while he at one time could have had a real shot at playing in the NFL.
Lesnar was already out of his prime when he gave football a serious go, but he’s proven he can overcome obstacles and be the best in the world at two different sports, so if the timing were right, it’s worth wondering how good he could have been in the NFL.
Michael Phelps (Swimming to PGA)
There is no denying that Michael Phelps is one of the greatest Olympians ever and without a doubt the most impressive pro swimmer we’ve ever seen. His body was crafted by the water Gods themselves, after all.
As amazing of a swimmer as Phelps is, he’s also slowly worked up a solid reputation for his ability out on the golf course. Phelps has been working his way up the ladder as a guy who can hit tough shots and drive the ball far, and given the determination and focus we’ve seen out of him with swimming, it’s not too much of a reach to imagine him taking his game to an even higher level on the green one day.
Usain Bolt (Sprinting to Soccer or NFL)
Speed can’t be taught, which is why it’s a huge part of football and soccer – two sports that an insane athlete like Usain Bolt could potentially excel at. Bolt is said to be a huge fan of soccer, while his awesome six (6’5”) and speed (estimated 3.9 40-yard dash time) would surely translate to the gridiron in some way.
Bolt may currently lack the skill-set or toughness to thrive in today’s NFL, but he has the size and speed to be taken on as a very tantalizing project with immense upside. At just 29 years old, should Bolt decide to hang up his sprinting cleats anytime soon, it wouldn’t be shocking to hear his name come up in soccer or NFL rumors.
Jeff Samardzija (MLB to NFL)
This one is super easy, as San Francisco Giants ace Jeff Samardzija was actually a stand out wide receiver at Notre Dame and has the size, speed and ball skills to potentially be a day one pick in the NFL Draft.
Noting the lack of a shelf life in such a brutal sport as pro football, the man known as Shark opted to stick with his first love in baseball. Samardzija is still somewhat erratic as an MLB pitcher, but he’s established himself as one of the more solid pitchers in the league, which arguably shows he made the right choice.
That being said, Samardzija absolutely had the talent to be a star receiver in the NFL and could have been tearing up the league this whole time, had he made a different decision.
LeBron James (NBA to NFL)
James is such a ridiculous athlete that a strong argument could be made that he’d be at least passable at any sport your throw at him. It’s clear James’ high-level skill-set is best utilized on the NBA courts, but he also has the size, length, overall athleticism and toughness to try his hand as an NFL receiver.
Whether that would classify King James as a true wide receiver or tight end probably doesn’t matter, as there is little debate that he’s as big or as athletic as guys like Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. James is even probably more explosive, more agile and faster, potentially making him a matchup nightmare on the pro field.
On top of his physical abilities, James also has some football experience from his high school days. It’s probably too late in his career to make the switch (especially now that he’s in his prime), but it’s still probably that he could pull it off.