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NFL players say LeBron should stick to basketball

Oct 14, 2011, 11:35 AM EDT

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LeBron James should be in Heat training camp, but because he’s got more time on his hands he sounds a little bored.

Which led him to tweeting about when an NFL team could sign a free agent the other day. Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll picked up on that and went so far as Carroll getting a LeBron jersey made (with a kicker’s number, but we’ll let that go).

But it’s an intriguing question — could LeBron transfer his skills to the gridiron? Fox Sports Ohio asked a few players.

“It wouldn’t be easy,” Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall said. “I recommend he keep his NBA contract and just play the Madden video games if he misses football.”

LeBron’s athleticism is not in question. He’s listed at 6’8” and 250 pounds, and when you see him in an NBA locker room he’s one of only a handful of guys you see and think “he has an NFL body.” You could see him as an explosive tight end with soft hands who would be nearly impossible to stop on a high ball in the end zone. Other basketball guys have made the transition to NFL tight end — Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley currently.

But there’s that whole issue of contact. LeBron powers through arms while driving to the hoop, but a hit from a 260-pound linebacker in pads is a few levels up the pain meter. Another Bengals defensive back, Chris Crocker, played for the Browns at the same time LeBron was with the Cavs and saw him a lot.

“There aren’t many guys with the athleticism and strength LeBron has in any sport,” Crocker said. “But I also think guys pick the sports they pick for a reason. Just like (Chad) Ochocinco thinks he’s a soccer player until he gets up close and sees how skilled pro soccer players really are, there’s nothing easy about the NFL.”

In the end, we all know this is not going to happen. There are at least $15 million reasons why (the difference between what LeBron makes in the NBA and would make in the NFL).

  1. thetooloftools - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    I bang on LeBron probably more then anybody, but he would be a stud in the NFL. NFL players have a way over rated opinion of how hard a receivers job is (that is why many receivers are still playing at a high level in their mid 30’s). It’s not like they are going to send LeBron over the middle, but in a red zone situation, he would be unstoppable. No db in the NFL could even dream of going up there and getting the ball away from him.
    LeBron floats in rarefied air.

    • stanmackley - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      go up and catch the ball, yes- but then what are the chances of him landing on his feet instead of getting popped and landing flat on his face. incomplete pass.

    • florida727 - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM

      I’m envisioning Urlacher “meeting” LeBron somewhere between the hash marks. They’d pick up LeBron in a rubber bag for transportation to the county coroner’s place of business. I have a friend who played in the NFL for a couple of years, just an ‘averaged size’ O-lineman according to him. I’m 6’3″ and 250. He freaking dwarfs me. If he hit me, I’d be in intensive care for 6 months.

  2. premiumpit - Oct 14, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Funny how NFL players wanna talk about how hard it is to play in the nfl. but when players from other leagues do it they are better at it then anything else. Deion was a much better football player then baseball and so was bo jackson. Gates was gonna be a basketball player and at one point he was the best te in the game. But when football player go to another sport they suck or are average. lebron would probably become a allstar in the nfl. I wanna see the football player become a star in baseball lolololol not happening.

    • hystoracle - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      Both Bo and Deion were football players first. And transferred right out of major college programs to the pros. They played baseball on the side.. Not the best comparison.

    • hystoracle - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      Also, Jordan (arguably the greatest basketball player of all time) played baseball.. and was worse at it than Deion or Bo.

  3. cosanostra71 - Oct 14, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    premium, Bo was the all-star game MVP in the MLB

    • theghostofwillisreed - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:34 PM

      bo jackson was on his way to a potential hall of fame career before his hip injury that he sustained in football. bo was on constant beast mode in both sports. it wasn’t hyperbole to say that bo could have an all-timer in both sports.

      • havlicekstoletheball - Oct 16, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Bo was also a walking ad for better athletes through chemicals. That is why his hip came apart.

        I would love to have seen him do it without the enhancements.

  4. jwalkingincarolina - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    Yeah im pretty sure Lebron is a far superior athlete than Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham. Those NFL players who say he should stick to the NBA are smart because he would dominate your league if he decided to dedicate his time to the game.

  5. goforthanddie - Oct 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I’m sure quite a few people would love to see him lined up opposite them.

  6. premiumpit - Oct 14, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    My point is they were better at football then anything else. Including Bo Jackson. And you are right about Jordon. I mean hitting a baseball at the mlb level is the hardest thing to do in sports. Besides going 12 rounds in the ring.

    • sasquash20 - Oct 17, 2011 at 4:56 PM

      I think being a goalie in hockey, or QB is harder then hitting a baseball. How many good hitters in baseball? More good hitters in MLB, then good QBs in the NFL. And way more hitters in MLB then goalies in the NHL. I think that line is over used and unfounded.

  7. premiumpit - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    And i cant stand lebron. But Leon hall should talk. because he wouldnt be able to play baseball or basketball the the professional level. He hasnt even got a interception in his own league.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:35 PM

      considering a leon hall is a pro bowl cornerback, he’s not exactly a slouch…

    • sivman17 - Oct 14, 2011 at 5:37 PM

      Wow… just because he has no picks he’s not any good?

      He’s the best CB on a defense that’s #1 in the NFL.

      Yeah… he should just shut his mouth.

  8. premiumpit - Oct 14, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    And lebron has been a mvp for multiple years. And lebron would be better at football then hall would be at basketball. I dont see any nba teams trying to get hall even as a joke. but i see nfl teams doing that with lebron. But your right hes not a slouch.

  9. lookatthefarside - Oct 14, 2011 at 6:52 PM

    Mickey D’s Guy: Odds of LeBron James winning seven championships….one in……..

    LeBron James: c’mon man!

    Mickey D’s guy: odds in LeBron James winning a prize..
    1 in four!

    LeBron James: Free Fries!

    Cleveland fan base: LOL! And STFU!

  10. jbandit2116 - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    How can you have an article discussing former basketball players in football and not one mention of the best ever…Tony Gonzales!? Screw Gates, he’s never been as good as Gonzales was in his prime and never will be.

  11. bjtmeyer - Oct 14, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Lebron tweeting is about as annoying as Ochocinco tweeting.

  12. paulieorkid - Oct 14, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Lebron would not be able to cut in the NFL. The list of NFL castoffs and NFL quitters with supreme athletes with explosive strength or blazing speed — who can’t hang, particularly those from other sports.

    Brock Lesnar: had all the measurables, strong as hell – plus a huge motor. Lesnar couldn’t cut it. Was done, and done in short order.

    Skeets Nehemiah: fast as hell, but was terror-stricken by the devastating contact. Like Lesnar, Nehemiah’s NFL career was a fart in the wind.

    The NFL is a high production shredder — even NBA studs get it. Charles Barkley was regularly lauded as a hulking beast who’d tear up the NFL. The ever-candid Barkley said he wanted no part of an NFL field — nothin’ but danger out there; too many monsters out there trying to take my head off. Barkley understands what many don’t.

    Shaquille O’Neal gets it. Shaq played high school ball very briefly. Even at the high school level, Shaq got lit up by a little DB (and injured). Shaq swore off football forever. Many claimed he’d have destroyed at the NFL level. Those people fail to understand playing in the NFL takes major ballz.

    And by the way, Shaq himself has made it very very clear (when the question came up) that he wants nothing to do with playing on a field where the James Harrisons, Ray Lewis(es) and Ndamukong Suhs of the world want to ruin your life just for fun.

    Lebron is a TREMENDOUS athlete – but has zero chance of EVER hanging around in the NFL for anything longer than novelty factor.

  13. havlicekstoletheball - Oct 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Actually, James’ athleticism is indeed in question.

    He is tall and lanky, and while in comparison to other tall and lanky athletes he is muscled, this does not prove to be the case among NFL linebackers, or even defensive backs.

    James has well-below average speed, running somewhere over a 4.9. His bench press with 225 pounds was reported as an anemic 15 reps. James is actually most comparable physically to Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.

    James is 6-9 and 255 pounds. Gronkowski is 6-6 1/2 and 265 pounds.

    James ran a 4.93 40. Gronkowski ran a 4.65 40.

    James had a 44 inch vertical leap. Gronkowski had a 33.5 inch vertical leap.

    Gronkowski is heavier, significantly stronger, and much faster than James. James is taller, and can jump higher, but a QB that needs a 6-9 target instead of a 6-6 target probably isn’t your guy….

  14. smashmouthrb25 - Oct 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    1st question is why wasn’t Julius Peppers mentioned among others as stand out basketball players that chose football…secondly didn’t Charlie Ward win the Heisman and then go to the NBA? So I feel it is possible if given the chance….regardless I’ll take Lebron on a goal line fade route over a 6’2 corner any day…

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