LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but there will always be curiosity to know if he too would have been a legendary soccer player.
James was a talented wide receiver in high school, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary’s soccer team. As a sophomore, he was named a statewide first team and was even drafted by some Division I schools. But he kept his focus on basketball and ended his football career after high school.
“I always think about that” James told Athletic about his potential football career.
Talking to people who played James or knew him in high school, The Athletic collected a lot of sound bites. One said James had the potential to be a two-sport Hall of Fame athlete, and another compared him to Randy Moss.
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But because the NBA season overlaps with the NFL season (and because it was probably in his contract not to play for other teams), we will never know if James could have been an NFL athlete. However, we get closer.
After the 2011 NBA Finals, in which James’ Heat lost to the Mavericks, the league headed for a lockout. The lockout delayed the start of the next season until December, and was the result of an expired collective bargaining agreement, meaning there were no contracts that would prevent James from joining the NFL if he wanted to.
During that time, the Cowboys and Seahawks invited James to train. According to The Athletic, James said he “seriously considered” the offer to try the Cowboys.
“I would have made the team,” James told The Athletic. “I would have tried, but I would have been on the team. One thing is, I don’t mind working for something, so if I had to try out for the Cowboys or Seahawks, or if I had, I stayed home and came home in Cleveland, I would have tried, but I would have made the team. I only know what I’m capable of on the football field. Especially at that age (27). “
This isn’t the first time James has talked about the 2011 offseason and how he came close to giving the NFL a chance. In a 2019 “Uninterrupted” podcast, James said that he and his team were beginning to train to potentially play in the NFL.
“The thoughts came to my mind,” James said in 2019. “I had no idea how long the lockout was going to last. And me and my coach, Mike Mancias, we really started training to be football players in October and November. We started timing our times in our 40s. We started adding a little more on our bench presses and things like that. We started adding more sleds to our schedule with our workouts. “
James’ business manager Maverick Carter also said that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even went so far as to offer James a contract even though he didn’t actually run for the team.
“I know he got a contract from Jerry Jones,” Carter said, “which he framed and put in his office.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.