sports Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport  

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List Rules Only two-sport athletes who could have been superstars in both sports

Famous athletes who could have dominated a second sport tell the story of men and women with so much athletic ability that they shouldn't be limited to being the best at just one sport when they could easily find success in several sports. Many athletes have tried to become successful two-sport athletes and few have succeeded but dozens more have the potential.

This list isn't about the notable two-sport athletes like Deion Sanders, who won both the Super Bowl and a World Series, or Hershel Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy, appeared in the Winter Olympics in bobsled and competed in mixed martial arts, or Michael Jordan, who returned after retiring from the NBA to play in the MLB, or Bo Jackson, who enjoyed success playing professional football and baseball during his career. This list is about the athletes who despite having the talent to dominate two sports, stuck to one and became one of the best to ever play.

For many athletes, this choice between two sports was an early one. Tom Brady for instance was selected in the MLB Draft but declined to play football. His three Super Bowl rings and numerous NFL records show he made a wise choice. Kirk Gibson was one of the best wide receivers in NCAA Football but chose the MLB contract offer over the one from the NFL. He went on to win two World Series and is still active as a highly successful MLB manager. Wilt Chamberlain had the choice of track, basketball, volleyball, boxing and football in his early years. He picked basketball and for that is now a household name.

These big names and so many more from professional football, basketball, baseball, hockey and other sports could have easily dominated a second sport. For one reason or another they made the tough decision to focus on one primary sport and in many cases went on to become legends in that sport. It would be tough to think that they regret the decision but one they certainly look back upon and wonder "what if?"
list ordered by

1
588 62
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
RussellHinsley added Bo Jackson age 55

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2
289 72
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
madd added Deion Sanders age 50

3
485 185
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added LeBron James age 31 - Played football in high school before his historic NBA career

4
309 110
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
MarioKidd added Jim Brown age 81 - College letterman in Football, Baseball, Lacrosse and Track

5
365 142
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Wilt Chamberlain Died at 63 (1936-1999) - Before becoming a legend in the NBA, he was sought after by nearly every sport from track, volleyball, boxing and football

6
204 77
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Sportsman added Usain Bolt age 31

7
223 98
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
bfmhf added Steve Nash age 43 - Could be playing soccer in the MLS

8
256 120
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Allen Iverson age 42 - Earned all-state honors in high school football playing quarterback before joining the National Basketball Association

9
263 129
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tony Gonzalez age 41 - Dominated college football and basketball, including playing in the 1997 Sweet Sixteen, before enjoying a successful professional football career

10
214 107
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
John Elway age 57 - Spent time in the minors for the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals before going on to become one of the best football players ever

11
125 59
Russell Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AndrewGiessen added Russell Wilson age 27

12
162 91
Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Antonio Gates age 35 - Played basketball at Kent State before joining the Chargers

13
64 16
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Jim Thorpe Died at 65 (1888-1953)

14
185 119
Brock Lesnar is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Brock Lesnar age 40 - In addition to spending time in professional wrestling, he once made the roster for the Minnesota Vikings

15
144 89
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Hakeem Olajuwon age 54 - Started a promising soccer career in his native Nigeria before coming to the United States to play basketball

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16
50 16
Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Herschel Walker age 55

17
140 96
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Gookin added Shaquille O'Neal age 43

18
43 14
Jesse Owens is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added Jesse Owens Died at 67 (1913-1980)

19
115 81
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tim Duncan age 41 - Planned to compete in swimming in the Summer Olympics but after his pool was destroyed by a hurricane, focused his energy on basketball

20
86 58
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Julius Peppers age 37 - Played college basketball at North Carolina

21
106 78
Eric Decker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Eric Decker age 30 - Drafted twice into Major League Baseball but declined to play in the NFL

22
94 67
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added Ray Lewis age 42 - Boxing Legend Bert Sugar claimed that the heavyweight division is lacking because athletes who historically would become boxing's stars in the premier division now go to other sports. He said that the best two heavyweight boxers ...

23
81 59
Nate Robinson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added Nate Robinson age 30 - Plays in the NBA, but was an All-American football player at the University of Washington

24
89 68
Dave Winfield is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added Dave Winfield age 66 - Baseball HoFer was also a star basketball player at U of Minnesota. Coach Bill Musselman called him the best rebounder he's ever seen.

25
75 57
Tom Glavine is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tom Glavine age 49 - Selected in the NHL Draft (two rounds before Brett Hull) but declined and went on to enjoy a storied career in professional baseball

26
39 28
Otto Graham is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
willyboymcoy added Otto Graham Died at 82 (1921-2003) - Went to Northwestern on a basketball scholarship before discovering football.  Played one season (1945-46) for the Rochester Royals in the NBL before joining the Cleveland Browns in the fall of 1946.

27
53 44
Danny Ainge is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added Danny Ainge age 58 - Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in baseball, played for the Celtics

28
54 46
Kirk Gibson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Kirk Gibson age 60 - Before he was a baseball legend he was earning All-American honors playing wide receiver in NCAA Football

29
58 51
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added Brian Urlacher age 37 - Boxing Legend Bert Sugar claimed that the heavyweight division is lacking because athletes who historically would become boxing's stars in the premier division now go to other sports. He said that the best two heavyweight boxers ...

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30
63 58
Donovan McNabb is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Donovan McNabb age 41 - Enjoyed success playing NCAA Basketball at Syracuse before giving up the round ball for the Super Bowl and spending several years in the NFL

31
131 132
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tom Brady age 40 - Drafted into the MLB, gave that up and went on to earn three Super Bowl rings in the National Football League

32
68 64
Marion Jones is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Marion Jones age 42 - Succeeded in college basketball and was drafted into the WNBA while enjoying a long Olympic track and field career

33
56 54
Dan Marino is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Dan Marino age 56 - Declined a fourth-round offer in the 1979 MLB draft to play NCAA Football and set the stage to later become an NFL legend

34
54 52
Dirk Nowitzki is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Kihan41 added Dirk Nowitzki age 39

35
9 5
Jackie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tangy Tiger added Jackie Robinson Died at 53 (1919-1972)

36
46 47
Pat White is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Pat White age 29 - Selected four times in the MLB Draft and even signed with the Kansas City Royals after he was cut from the Miami Dolphins in the NFL

37
14 11
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tom Derr added Michael Jordan age 54

38
41 43
Mark Henry is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
PeteBoyle added Mark Henry age 44 - Before he was a WWE superstar, Henry was an Olympic weightlifter

39
47 50
Bill Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Jhair84 added Bill Goldberg age 51 - Could have played for the Vikings.

40
3 1
Paul Pogba is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added Paul Pogba age 22

41
2 0
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added Zinedine Zidane age 43

42
2 0
Franck Ribéry is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added Franck Ribéry age 32

43
38 43
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Kobe Bryant age 39

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44
15 16
Willie Gault is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Willie Gault age 57

45
8 11
Jay Ajayi is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added Jay Ajayi had a chance to play on the nigerian national soccer team. very athletic

46
37 47
George Halas is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
George Halas Died at 88 (1895-1983) - The now-NFL legend for his leadership with the Chicago Bears once played pro baseball and was replaced by none other than Babe Ruth

47
2 5
Dave DeBusschere is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Aron Bowlin added Dave DeBusschere Died at 63 (1940-2003)

48
21 30
Ben Roethlisberger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
DylanHempfing added Ben Roethlisberger age 35 - Was an outstanding basketball and baseball player in his high school and college career.

49
35 54
Daunte Culpepper is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Daunte Culpepper age 38 - Dominated basketball in high school, went on to become a three-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL

50
9 23
A B De Villiers is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
natarajp51992 added A B De Villiers