10 Pro Athletes Who Excelled in Another Sport
11.14.2016 | Sports Source: espn.go.com

10 Pro Athletes Who Excelled in Another Sport

They're freak athletes.

Some people are just too athletic.

They are big. They are strong. They are fast. They have all the skills necessary to thrive in any sport they want. In high school, they tend to play multiple sports but in college (and the pros), many are forced to pick their favorite. Not everyone has to choose though, and here is a look at 10 pro athletes in recent times who excelled in another sport.
Jameis Winston
Other than stealing crab legs and winning a Heisman Trophy during his tenure at Florida State, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers current starting quarterback had quite the baseball career. As a sophomore, Winston had seven saves as the Seminoles closer. And he owned a 1.08 ERA in 24 games while striking out 31 batters in 33.1 innings. There was pro baseball potential here too. But football has worked out pretty well.
Antonio Gates
Yeah, you probably know him as the San Diego Chargers All-Pro tight end. But at Kent State, he was better known for his skills on the basketball court. He averaged 20.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per game as a senior. Gates didn't even play college football. At 6-foot-4, he was a tweener in basketball, which hurt his NBA chances. And he was originally a Michigan State football recruit, but Nick Saban didn't want him to also play basketball. Nick Saban screwed up there.
Brian Jordan
The former All-Star outfielder had a 15-year big league career finished his big league career with a .282 batting average and 182 home runs. Prior to that, he was in the NFL for three seasons. He was the Atlanta Falcons starting strong safety for two years, recording six interceptions. He was even a Pro Bowl alternate in his final season.
So why did he give it up? At the same time, he was a St. Louis Cardinals prospect so when he was big league ready in 1992, they gave him a new contract -- with incentive ($1.7 million) to give up football. It worked. His big league career lasted until 2006.
Russell Wilson
Before he was the Super Bowl winner (and loser) he is today, Wilson was a second basemen in the Colorado Rockies farm system. He was selected by the Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft and spent two summers in their system while he was still playing college football. His .710 OPS in A Ball wasn't awful, but a huge senior year at Wisconsin (72.8 completion percentage, 33 touchdowns, four interceptions) decided his future.
Mark Hendrickson
He's 6-foot-9 and left-handed. That should give this one away. Hendrickson starred in basketball and baseball at Washington State University which led to him being selected in both the NBA draft and MLB draft. Like many NBA second rounders, Hendrickson became a journeyman. He gave up the game in 2000 after playing in 115 games in four seasons for four different teams.
With his focus on baseball, he enjoyed a 10-year big league career (2002-2011). His results weren't great, going 58-74 with a 5.03 ERA. But he is one of just 12 men ever to play in both the MLB and NBA -- and the most recent.
Brandon Weeden
Ever wonder why Weeden was so old as an NFL rookie? Because he was the New York Yankees second round pick in the 2002 MLB draft. He fizzled out in high-A at 22 and then went to Oklahoma State, had an excellent career there and became another Cleveland Browns quarterback mistake when they picked him in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft. Sure, didn't excel in either league, but he's thrown more touchdowns (31) than interceptions (30) in his five-year NFL career, so there's that.
Drew Henson
Yeah. He wasn't great at either sport professionally. But it is hard to deny his athleticism. He was the New York Yankees third round draft pick in 1998 and played baseball during the summer during his college years. As a freshman at Michigan, he competed with Tom Brady for playing time -- but eventually lost. He started as a junior (2000) and threw 16 touchdowns and four interceptions before quitting on the game to focus on baseball.
His lack of Triple-A and MLB success (.234 average and .697 OPS in three Triple-A seasons, 1-for-9 in his big league career) didn't inspire confidence, and the Yankees landed Alex Rodriguez as their third baseman prior to the 2004 MLB season, so Henson gave up on baseball and went back to football. He played in nine NFL games in five seasons. Maybe he should have focused on one and he would have excelled.
Bo Jackson
One of the greatest athletes ever, Jackson had 30-home run power and was a bruising NFL running back. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first overall pick in the 1986 NFL draft. He believed they tried to sabotage his baseball career, so he signed with the Kansas City Royals instead, who picked him in the fourth round of that year's MLB draft.
He ended up joining the LA Raiders a year later when they picked him in the seventh round and owner Al Davis was willing to let Jackson play both sports. Both went exceptionally well until he injured his hip in a 1991 playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The injury forced him to give up football and he wasn't the same baseball player after.
Deion Sanders
Count track and he was actually a three-sport athlete at Florida State. Football was his major focus as he was the Atlanta Falcons fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft -- and a Yankees 30th rounder the same year. The NFL Hall of Famer was an eight time Pro Bowler and two time Super Bowl Champ. He also spent nine years in the big leagues, hitting .263 and stealing 186 bases in his tenure albeit he never played in 100 MLB games in a season. Yeah. He was a pretty special athlete.
Ricky Williams
There was a time when Williams was kind of like a Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Picked in the eighth round of the 1995 MLB draft, he was a Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer in the springs and summers and a Texas Longhorns running back in the fall. In four pro seasons, Williams hit .211 with a .526 OPS -- not quite as good as his nearly 6,600 rushing yards and 75 rushing touchdowns in that same span. Picked fifth overall in the 1999 NFL draft, he gave up on baseball and went on to rush for over 10,000 yards in his NFL career.