The percentage of athletes that make it to the top level of their sport is a pretty small number. The number of athletes that are able to excel in multiple sports is even smaller. Here are some top athletes that were able to find success in a sport other than the one they are best known for.
Tom Brady’s Baseball Career
Tom Brady is widely considered the greatest quarterback and one of the greatest athletes of all time. His sports IQ and determination led him to a ridiculous amount of success on the football field, but not a lot of people know that he also had enormous potential as a baseball player.
Brady was quite a good baseball player in high school, and his success in the sport even attracted the attention of MLB scouts. Brady played catcher and batted left-handed, at a level that got him drafted in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Montreal Expos. Brady was projected as a potential All-Star, and Kevin Malone, the GM of the Expos at the time, claimed that he could be “one of the greatest catchers ever.”
Brady ended up choosing to become a star on the gridiron, and we all know how well that decision played out, but who knows what could have been if he chose a career on the baseball diamond.
Michael Jordan Baseball Career
A somewhat more well-known occurrence of an elite athlete crossing over to another sport was done by a man who many call the greatest athlete of all time. Six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan very easily could have had a very successful baseball career and, at one point, even showed this ability at the professional level.
After nine seasons in the NBA and in the middle of his prime, while dominating the game of basketball, Jordan briefly left and pursued a short-lived baseball career. On October 6th, 1993, after leading the Chicago Bulls to their third straight championship, the 31-year-old Michael Jordan shocked the world and announced his retirement from basketball.
Michael Jordan’s father always thought Michael could be a successful baseball player, and shortly after his father’s passing, Michael made the switch to baseball in honor of him. The last time Jordan had played organized baseball was in high school. Still, in February of 1994, Jordan signed a contract with the minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox as an outfielder.
He was a good baseball player and probably could have been even better. Had baseball been his main focus throughout his career, Jordan may just have been one of the greatest ever to do it, but once again, we will never know.
Russel Wilson’s Baseball Career
One football player that has had a much more visible baseball career is former Seahawks and current Broncos quarterback Russel Wilson. Russel Wilson is known for his athleticism on the football field, which he used to lead the Seahawks to a Superbowl victory in 2014, and another appearance the following year.
However, Wilson arguably could have had just as successful of a baseball career, a sport at which he thrived and was even his main focus early on. Russell Wilson excelled in high school at football, basketball, and baseball. His versatility and athleticism made each of these sports a legitimate pursuit as a career. He was even drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 but ultimately turned down the offer to pursue two sports in college.
When he attended NC State from 2008-2010, he played both football and baseball for their successful D1 program. He went on to play for the Colorado Rockies for two seasons and had decent on-base numbers as a batter. He went on to attend Wisconsin as a graduate student and had an extremely successful college career there before being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and playing hall of fame level football throughout his career.
Tim Duncan Swimming
There are a decent amount of athletes that cross over between baseball, football, and basketball, but Hall of Famer Tim Duncan’s alternate sport is pretty surprising. Tim Duncan was known on the court for his solid fundamentals and leadership, which gave him the nickname “The Big Fundamental,” but the 6’11” basketball player also had a quite successful swimming career as well.
Growing up in the US Virgin Islands, Duncan took to swimming like a fish to water. Duncan wasn’t just a good swimmer as a kid. Believe it or not, he was actually on track to be an Olympian.
Unfortunately, in the midst of his immense success in the water, hurricane Hugo destroyed his home pool, and with a lack of places to hold competitions in his hometown, he turned his focus to basketball. From there, he went on to have an incredible career with the San Antonio Spurs and is known to this day as one of the best ever.
Allen Iverson Played Football
Allen Iverson was known on the basketball court for his extreme shiftiness and handles and an unapologetic attitude that showed itself in every aspect of his game. But before it became clear that his future would be in basketball, Iverson was actually quite a good football player.
In an interview, he even stated, “I know that I would have been a better player at football than I was at basketball” and that it was his first love. Iverson attended Bethel High School in Newport News, Virginia, where he was a standout two-way player. He was both a quarterback, cornerback, and returner. He set the Virginia high school state scoring record in basketball and led Bethel to state championship basketball and football his sophomore year.
Iverson was an exceptional quarterback who was recruited by multiple top-level college football programs. Because of his level and style of play, many say that he could have been the first Michael Vick at quarterback or the next Dion Sanders at corner.