LeBron James: Football star?

By Tyler Galicia

Courtesy of TheMatadorSports.com

Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest player in NBA history, took a crack at playing baseball, but he never saw the big show, as he was stranded in Double-A for the entirety of his “career”. Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, two all-world athletes, both starred in the MLB for a few years, with Sanders undoubtedly having a more productive NFL career. So with a handful of precedents, why couldn’t LeBron James seemingly take his talents to the NFL and see if the shoe fits?

James himself has said that he has an interest in dabbling in the sport, and he has created a buzz around himself with this idea, as is typical of LBJ.  The intensity of the current NBA lockout also gives its employees plenty of free time, and not many have the option to just pick up another sport. If LeBron really tried to make his dream come to fruition, what type of NFL player could King James potentially be?

While standing at 6’8’’ and 250 pounds with the chiseled build of a Roman gladiator, LeBron is a specimen unlike any other. He has the speed of a 6’1’’ point guard, but the strength of linebacker. He’s a spectacle to look at, and no sport has ever really seen an athlete of his caliber. However, the NFL is a whole different beast, as even some of the greatest of collegiate ball players haven’t survived the intensity of the pros. To LeBron’s credit, he does have a football background, even if it’s minimal. Along with being an All-American basketball player at St. Vincent’s-St. Mary’s High School, James was also an All-State wide receiver, who led his team to a state semifinal appearance. LeBron’s athleticism, competitiveness, and popularity could feasibly earn him a job, even if temporary, in the NFL.

It also helps that two players have essentially been in the same position as James. Antonio Gates of the Chargers and Jimmy Graham of the Saints both played college basketball; Gates at Kent State and Graham at the University of Miami. Gates never even put on pads at Kent State, yet he was signed by the Chargers solely based on potential, and has rewarded them by becoming arguably one of the top ten tight ends of all-time. Graham, meanwhile, only played a single season of college football, but four years of basketball. Despite a small dose of experience, Graham was selected by the Saints in the third round of the 2010 draft. His 2011 season has been a coming-out party of sorts, and he has become one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets in the Saints offense.

James could reasonably become a target for a team looking for pass-catchers, while his body frame, size and strength could provide ample pass blocking out of the tight end position. Unfortunately for James, it’s hard to imagine him at any other position. He’s too big and doesn’t possess the necessary lateral quickness to be a running back. Wide receiver is an option, but it’s hard to imagine a team would want to waste the potential blocking ability he could provide in order to put him in the slot or on the outside. As for anywhere on defense, he just doesn’t have the experience or necessary football experience to be effective on that side of the ball.

There’s no question that LBJ could definitely draw interest based on his reputation and pure skill alone, but clearly his passion and the guaranteed money lies on the hardwood. When it’s all said and done, James will likely go down as the most prolific scorer in NBA history, along with a few rings on his final resume, before he comes to Springfield to enter the Hall of Fame. So it’s easy to see him avoiding any health risks posed by the toughness of the NFL, and sticking to the business of dunking on South Beach.

Tyler Galicia can be reached for comment at tgal[email protected]