Most of us have a friend who likes to tell us they could have been a professional sportsperson, and we don’t often believe them. However, when it is a professional NBA player telling you that they turned down a chance to play in the NFL, you tend to believe they would have the skills and athleticism to succeed.
NBA players and NFL players tend to have incredible physicality and a lot of different skills that cross over, which means there is a chance that, especially when they were young, they had a go at both sports.
NFL makes a huge amount of money, and there are more pro players in the sport than in the NBA. The NFL betting market is huge, and the best NFL betting app can give you the chance to gamble on really specific markets, but switching sports is not one of them! Whether a player chose the NBA or NFL may come down to their own passion, money or a variety of other reasons.
In this guide, we’ve explored a list of players who, in our opinion, could have played in the NFL. There aren’t many out there who have had trials for football teams as well as baseball teams, especially at a high level, as they tend to specialize long before it becomes time to sign a pro deal.
LeBron played three years of high school football and if you’ve watched James play in the NBA, you can see how his skills would translate to the football field. He’s a tenacious guy and a physical specimen, and at 6’8”, with a huge amount of pace and power, he could potentially have made it as a professional in the NFL.
As it stands, LeBron specialized way earlier than the time he would have had to think about taking any trials with pro NFL clubs or college football, but you can imagine that such an incredible athlete, and one of the greatest basketball players ever, would have had a chance.
LeBron won rookie of the year in the NBA back in 2003-2004 and there was no looking back for him, as you would expect.
Iverson is another NBA icon, with a huge number of points and steals, and he won the MVP award as well as becoming an All-Star pick on 11 occasions. Pretty impressive, but this is actually even more shocking when you consider the fact that at a young age, Iverson was actually better at football.
“I was way better in football than I was in basketball, it was my first love… That just lets you know how great God is because I’m a Hall-of-Famer in basketball”, he has said.
Iverson often talked throughout his career about what kind of a football player he would have been, and the fact that he was so good as a youngster, playing as a quarterback. Playing for Bethel High School in the state of Virginia, he achieved 2,204 yards and 29 total touchdowns.
Charlie Ward was an incredibly brave man and one of the few to make a switch at a relatively late stage.
He dreamed of playing in the NBA but was also very good at football, and playing as quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles, he broke records for the most career steals for the team.
In 1993, he was a sensation in the sport, leading the Seminoles to their first-ever National Championship, and when the 1994 NFL Draft rolled around, he could have turned pro. He would only agree to commit to a team in the NFL if they were willing to pick him in the first round but nobody did, so when he got the No. 26 draft pick in the NBA for the Knicks, he turned to basketball
Ward was brave to focus on the sport that he may not have been best at, but he still had a great career in the NBA. There is no denying that if he wanted, he could have played in the NFL. Nobody knows how he would have got on, but as an incredible athlete and technician, we believe he would have done just fine.
These two sports are very different, but if you are coming through the college system in the US, there is every opportunity to try playing both, and some of the top NBA players would have had the chance to pursue a career in the NFL if they had wished to.