When children play more than one sport, they receive even more benefits. Perhaps this is why so many major league players started out learning more than one type of sport before deciding on the one they would follow as a career. As many found out just a few years ago, a second sport can help later in life as well.
American baseball shortstop Derek Jeter once said, “There may be people that have more talent than you, but theres no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” And he should know – before playing nineteen seasons for the New York Yankees, he played both baseball and basketball in high school.
Playing a sport in high school, or even at younger ages, offers many benefits to children. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, playing a sport can provide emotional support, give realistic expectations about life, and help learn to handle disappointments.
The Many Athletic Talents of NFL Players
During 2011, the NFL owners locked out the players from team facilities and shut league operations down while trying to reach a consensus on a new collective bargaining agreement. There was a lot of speculation about what the players would do if an agreement could not be reached.
Many fans debated whether some of these players would pick up another sport. Here are 9 talented NFL players and the second sport that they played at one time in their life, whether in the past or currently.
- Tony Gonzalez –
Now that he no longer plays for the Atlanta Falcons, Tony Gonzalez might consider returning to basketball. During his years at the University of California-Berkeley, he played both sports and averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
- Michael Vick –
As he was entering his sophomore year at Virginia Tech, the Colorado Rockies were considering Michael Vick, quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, during the MLB Draft. This is despite the fact that the last time he played competitive baseball, he was 13 years old and in the eighth grade.
- Antonio Gates –
Before he played tight end for the San Diego Chargers, Antonio Gates played All-Conference basketball for Kent State, where he averaged 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game – and that was just during his senior year.
- Tom Brady –
Before he even attended college, the Montreal Expos baseball team drafted Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady. They wanted him to play catcher right out of high school, and selected him during the 18th round of the 1995 MLB draft.
- Jason Babin –
Although he was with the Tennessee Titans at the time, during the 2011 NFL lockout, this defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars considered exploring a career in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). He certainly has the tattoos for the job!
- Tony Romo –
The quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is an avid golfer. During two separate years, in both 2005 and 2010, he took a shot at making the U.S. Open. Unfortunately delays that interrupted with his NFL schedule forced him to withdraw.
- Julius Peppers –
This defensive end for the Chicago Bears chose to attend college at North Carolina. This is because, despite being recruited to play for Duke, North Carolina assured him that he could play both basketball and football while attending there.
- Tom Zbikowski –
A former safety for the Baltimore Ravens, Tom Zbikowski used the 2011 NFL Lockout as an opportunity to return to the boxing ring. He boasts a 2-0 record in professional boxing, and a 75-15 record while fighting as an amateur boxer.
- Chad Johnson –
Formerly known as Chad Ochocinco, this NFL wide receiver played for the Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots, and the Miami Dolphins before being released in 2012. However in 2011 he was asked to play a reserve game for a Major League Soccer team, and invited to continue to train with them afterward.
Benefits of Playing a Second Sport
Players do not have to face a lockout situation to enjoy the benefits of playing a second sport. A second sport can open up secondary career options for a player after they retire from their primary sport. It may help them network with other areas of the sporting industry for things like endorsements.
It is said that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, meaning that too much free time can result in trouble. When NFL players find trouble, or when trouble finds the, it often makes news headlines from coast to coast. Playing a second sport can help keep them from the temptation that goes along with the fame of playing for a major league sports team.
Canadian freelancer Mark Harris can appreciate indulging in more than one sport. When he isn’t checking out www.itisallaboutsports.com/ for information on his favorite sports teams, he spends his free time kayaking and hiking the areas around his home in White Rock, British Columbia. Another of Mark’s favorite hobbies is sneaking off to nearby Vancouver with his lovely wife where they play tourist in their own town.