Many sports fans know that Bo Jackson, Kyler Murray, John Elway and Deion Sanders were drafted in both the NFL and MLB drafts. You hear these names come up in conversation all the time, but there are a handful of former stars we bet you didn’t know were drafted in two sports. It’s pretty interesting to think about “what could have been” if these stars decided to play another sport, so without further ado here are 10 athletes you didn’t know were drafted in two sports.
1. Cedric Benson
The University of Texas’ second all-time leading rusher had a solid NFL career playing for the Bears, Bengals and Packers. Many people don’t know this, but Benson was drafted in the 12th round of the MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Considering the fact that he was the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft, his decision to choose football over baseball was probably relatively easy. Benson was a force in the league for years and even won the Ed Block Courage Award in 2010. In 2019 a tragic motor cycle accident took his life.
2. Pat Riley
Whether you know him from his playing days, coaching days or as the President of the Miami Heat, the first league that comes to mind when you think of Pat Riley is the NBA. Because it’s so difficult to picture an NBA without him, it may come as a surprise to hear that Riley was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as a WR in the 11th round of the 1967 NFL Draft. In that same year, he was picked by the San Diego Rockets in the NBA Draft and went on to play for nine seasons and had a phenomenal career as a coach as well. Had Riley decided to play for the Cowboys, we imagine he and Jerry Jones would have tons of interesting stories to tell.
3. Tom Glavine
Mostly known for his days with the Atlanta Braves, the two-time National League Cy Young winner was also a very talented hockey player. In 1984 Glavine was selected in the 2nd round of the MLB Draft and the 4th round of the NHL Draft. Glavine chose baseball but you can’t help but wonder what his NHL career could’ve held.
4. Daunte Culpepper
There was a time when Daunte Culpepper was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In Minnesota, Culpepper along with the dynamic duo of Randy Moss and Cris Carter put up some of the best offensive seasons the NFL has ever witnessed. Before Culpepper attended UCF, he was selected in the 26th round of the MLB draft by the New York Yankees. While we’re not sure if he would have ever made it to the big leagues, it would have been something to see that cannon on the baseball field.
5. Michael Vick
Out of all of the athletes to be drafted in two major American sports leagues, this one has to be the most-interesting. Everyone knows Michael Vick, the quarterback who could out run just about everybody in the NFL, but they don’t know the Michael Vick that played baseball. The reason they don’t know the Michael Vick that played baseball is because he hasn’t played since he was in eighth grade. Yup, despite not playing baseball since 8th grade, Vick was selected in the 30th round of the MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies.
6. Eric Decker
Whether you know him from his days as an NFL WR or from reality TV, chances are you did not know that Eric Decker could have gone pro in a second sport. Decker played wide receiver for the University of Minnesota football team and outfield for the school’s baseball team. He was picked in the 27th round of the MLB Draft but after being selected in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft Decker chose football.
7. Danny Ainge
Similar to Pat Riley, Danny Ainge has done just about everything one can do in the NBA. He excelled as a player, had some success as a coach and always seems to be up to something as the President Of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. But before Ainge ever stepped foot on an NBA court, he played three seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays. While in Toronto, he became the Blue Jays’ youngest player to ever hit a home run, a record which has since been broken by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. After a few seasons in the MLB, Ainge decided to hang up the cleats and entered the 1981 NBA Draft. He was selected by the Boston Celtics and the rest is history.
8. Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn is one of the best baseball players of all time, so it will surprise you to hear that the only collegiate athletic scholarships he received were for basketball. Gwynn was a California state champion in basketball and went on to play both baseball and basketball at San Diego State University. Gwynn arrived at San Diego State primarily because of basketball, but had enough success on the baseball field to raise his draft stock. He was selected in the third round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres just days before being picked in the 10th round of the NBA Draft by the San Diego Clippers. Gwynn went on to be one of the best hitters of all time and even coached baseball at San Diego State. He passed away in the summer of 2014 after a battle with cancer.
9. Golden Tate
Before Golden Tate stepped foot on a football field for Notre Dame, he was selected in the MLB Draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks picked Tate in the 42nd round, but he decided to attend Notre Dame where he would play both baseball and football. While Tate had a ton of success on the baseball diamond, it did not quite match his accomplishments on the gridiron. In 2010, Tate was selected in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft and the 50th round of the MLB Draft. Tate is currently an NFL free agent.
10. Antwaan Randle El
Antwaan Randle El was a quarterback in college, a solid NFL WR, and an All-Pro punt returner, so it’s no surprise that his athletic versatility helped him succeed in other sports. Before attending Indiana, Randle El was selected in the 14th round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. While it would not surprise anyone if Randle El made it to the big leagues, it’d be tough to say that he made the wrong decision. As a QB for Indiana in 2001, he earned first team All-American honors along with being named the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player. As a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, he put his arm to good use, throwing a touchdown in the team’s Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks.
The odds of becoming a professional athlete in America are extremely low. Those odds get even lower when you narrow it down to making it in the NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB.
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