Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is one the greatest athletes in human history, a 6’9, 250-pound mobile block of granite who can jump out of the gym and summon borderline unbelievable bursts of speed for a guy his size. It’s also well documented that even though James was perfectly built to be a basketball player and has ultimately made an argument that he’s the best player of all-time, there was another sport he might have been able to dominate, too: Football.
But when James didn’t play football during his senior year after being on his high school team for the prior three, went to the NBA directly after graduating and immediately cemented his place among the best players in the league, the door to football seems like it might have closed for him.
However, a 2020 appearance on his “Uninterrupted” platform, James actually revealed that he started training to play football during the 2011 NBA lockout, and did entertain the idea of trying to join an NFL team. His close friend and SpringHill Entertainment CEO, Maverick Carter, even let it slip that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent James a contract, which he has framed:
And during a 2021 appearance on Monday Night Football, James said he actually had offers from both the Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks:
"If I would’ve had a better quarterback in high school, I might’ve continued to play football. I took way too many hits." - LeBron James on the ManningCast— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) September 28, 2021
When I asked @KingJames earlier this year about the invitation to work out for the Cowboys during the 2011 lockout he said, “I would have made the team. I just know what I’m capable of doing on the football field. Especially at that age.” https://t.co/HuGGq4U6WH— Bill Oram (@billoram) September 28, 2021
With a lot of players, this idea would seem outlandish. Basketball and football bodies are often not the same, and adapting to a whole new sport can be a tough adjustment — look no further than Michael Jordan trying to pick up baseball again in the middle of his career. He got better, but it took time.
Still, James may be the exception here. He played high school football at an extremely high level for the majority of three years before deciding to focus solely on basketball, and it’s probably safe to say at this point that he made the right decision. But he could have potentially been great at football, too, and was even recruited by college coaches, including Urban Meyer.
People who knew LeBron back then are confident he could have been an incredible football player had he chosen to devote his efforts to that rather than basketball. It’s hard to look at him now, from his size to the way he moves, and not agree with them that he probably could figure out how to play in the NFL at an extremely high level.
We’ll never know for sure one way or the other, but the possibility of James becoming a two-sport pro will always remain both an incredibly fun “What If,” as well as a testament to his rare and unique athletic gifts.