Best Athletes 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
995 158
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
RussellHinsley added age 56 Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a retired American baseball and football player. He is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports. He was named the greatest ...more

2
1,127 321
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added age 34 Played football in high school before his historic NBA career LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. Standing at 6 ft 8 in and weighing 250 lbs., he has started ...more

3
571 158
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
madd added age 51 Deion Luwynn Sanders, Sr. is an American former football and baseball player, who works as an analyst for CBS Sports and the NFL Network. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on ...more

4
619 225
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
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 Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain was an American basketball player. He played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA; ...more

5
478 172
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
MarioKidd added age 82 College letterman in Football, Baseball, Lacrosse and Track James Nathaniel "Jim" Brown is an American former professional football player and actor. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine year career as a running back for ...more

6
430 152
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Sportsman added age 32 Usain St. Leo Bolt, OJ, CD, is a Jamaican sprinter. Widely regarded as the fastest person ever, he is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic ...more

7
172 38
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Died at 65 (1888-1953) James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was a Sac and Fox athlete of Native American and European ancestry. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold ...more

8
419 194
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 43 Earned all-state honors in high school football playing quarterback before joining the National Basketball Association Allen Ezail Iverson is an American retired professional basketball player who played for four different teams during 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association. He played both the point ...more

9
358 157
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
bfmhf added age 44 Could be playing soccer in the MLS Stephen John "Steve" Nash, OC, OBC is a Canadian retired professional basketball player who played in the National Basketball Association. He was an eight-time NBA All-Star and a ...more

10
352 166
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 42 Dominated college football and basketball, including playing in the 1997 Sweet Sixteen, before enjoying a successful professional football career Anthony David Gonzalez is a former American football tight end who played in the National Football League. He played college football for the University of California, Berkeley, and was ...more

11
239 96
Russell Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AndrewGiessen added age 30 Russell Carrington Wilson is an American football quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. Wilson was selected by the Seahawks with the 12th pick in the third round ...more

12
284 148
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 58 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 John Albert Elway, Jr. is a former American football quarterback and current General Manager and Executive Vice President of Football Operations for the Denver Broncos of the National Football ...more

13
102 26
Jesse Owens is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added Died at 67 (1913-1980) James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist. Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his ...more

14
112 34
Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added age 56 Herschel Junior Walker is a former college and professional football player, bobsledder, sprinter and mixed martial artist. He played college football for the University of Georgia, earned ...more

15
215 124
Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 38 Played basketball at Kent State before joining the Chargers Antonio Ethan Gates, Jr. is an American football tight end for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League. He has been selected onto the Pro Bowl nine times and is a five-time ...more

16
257 159
Brock Lesnar is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 41 In addition to spending time in professional wrestling, he once made the roster for the Minnesota Vikings Brock Edward Lesnar is an American professional wrestler and former professional mixed martial artist, currently signed to WWE. Lesnar is a four-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, a former UFC ...more

17
189 111
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 55 Started a promising soccer career in his native Nigeria before coming to the United States to play basketball Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a retired Nigerian-American professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National ...more

18
209 130
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Gookin added age 46 Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal, nicknamed Shaq, is an American retired professional basketball player, former rapper, actor and current analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. Standing 7 ft ...more

19
59 11
Jackie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tangy Tiger added Died at 53 (1919-1972) Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was an American baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball ...more

20
130 74
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 38 Played college basketball at North Carolina Julius Frazier Peppers is an American football player for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of North Carolina, and was ...more

21
157 100
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 42 Planned to compete in swimming in the Summer Olympics but after his pool was destroyed by a hurricane, focused his energy on basketball Timothy Theodore "Tim" Duncan is an American professional basketball player who has played his entire career for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association. The ...more

22
118 75
Nate Robinson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 33 Plays in the NBA, but was an All-American football player at the University of Washington Nathaniel Robinson is a former American football defensive tackle. He was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Once a heralded high school athlete, Robinson was an ...more

23
64 32
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tom Derr added age 55 Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American former professional basketball player. He is also an entrepreneur, and principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte ...more

24
131 95
Eric Decker is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 31 Drafted twice into Major League Baseball but declined to play in the NFL Eric Thomas Decker is an American football wide receiver for the New York Jets of the National Football League. Decker was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round, 87th overall pick of ...more

25
121 87
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added age 43 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 in the world are NFL linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. Raymond Anthony Lewis, Jr. is a former American football linebacker who played his entire 17-year career for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He played college football for ...more

26
113 83
Dave Winfield is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added age 67 Baseball HoFer was also a star basketball player at U of Minnesota. Coach Bill Musselman called him the best rebounder he's ever seen. David Mark "Dave" Winfield is an American former Major League Baseball right fielder. He is currently special assistant to the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players ...more

27
92 72
Tom Glavine is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 52 Selected in the NHL Draft (two rounds before Brett Hull) but declined and went on to enjoy a storied career in professional baseball Thomas Michael "Tom" Glavine is an American retired professional baseball player. A pitcher, Glavine played in Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. With 164 ...more

28
58 41
Otto Graham is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
willyboymcoy added 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. Otto Everett Graham, Jr. was an American football quarterback who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference and National Football League. Graham is regarded by ...more

29
65 55
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 40 Kobe Bean Bryant is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. He entered the NBA directly from high school, and has played for ...more

30
82 74
Donovan McNabb is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 42 Enjoyed success playing NCAA Basketball at Syracuse before giving up the round ball for the Super Bowl and spending several years in the NFL Donovan Jamal McNabb is a retired American football quarterback who played in the National Football League for thirteen seasons. Before his NFL career, he played football and basketball for ...more

31
70 63
Danny Ainge is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added age 59 Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in baseball, played for the Celtics Daniel Ray "Danny" Ainge is an American basketball executive and retired professional basketball and baseball player, currently serving as President of Basketball Operations for the ...more

32
73 67
Dirk Nowitzki is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Kihan41 added age 40 Dirk Werner Nowitzki is a German professional basketball player who currently plays for the Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association. An alumnus of Röntgen Gymnasium and the ...more

33
160 162
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 41 Drafted into the MLB, gave that up and went on to earn three Super Bowl rings in the National Football League Thomas Edward Patrick "Tom" Brady, Jr., nicknamed Tom Terrific, is an American football quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League. After playing college ...more

34
65 60
Kirk Gibson is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 61 Before he was a baseball legend he was earning All-American honors playing wide receiver in NCAA Football Kirk Harold Gibson is an American former professional baseball player and manager. As a player, Gibson was an outfielder who batted and threw left-handed. He spent most of his career with the ...more

35
73 69
Brian Urlacher is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added age 40 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 in the world are NFL linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. Brian Urlacher is a former American football linebacker who spent his entire 13-year career playing for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He played college football for the ...more

36
70 66
Dan Marino is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 57 Declined a fourth-round offer in the 1979 MLB draft to play NCAA Football and set the stage to later become an NFL legend Daniel Constantine "Dan" Marino, Jr. is an American former football player who was a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League. The last quarterback of the ...more

37
76 73
Marion Jones is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 43 Succeeded in college basketball and was drafted into the WNBA while enjoying a long Olympic track and field career Marion Lois Jones, also known as Marion Jones-Thompson, is an American former world champion track and field athlete, a former professional basketball player for Tulsa Shock in the WNBA. She won ...more

38
57 53
Mark Henry is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
PeteBoyle added age 47 Before he was a WWE superstar, Henry was an Olympic weightlifter Mark Jerrold Henry is an American powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter, strongman and professional wrestler who is currently signed to WWE. He was a two-time Olympian in 1992 and 1996 and a Silver, ...more

39
25 20
Jay Ajayi is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added had a chance to play on the nigerian national soccer team. very athletic
Jay Ajayi is a British American football running back for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Boise State and was drafted by the Miami ...more

40
60 61
Bill Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Jhair84 added age 52 Could have played for the Vikings.
William Scott "Bill" Goldberg is an American actor, former professional football player and retired professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances with World Championship ...more

41
13 9
Paul Pogba is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added age 25 Paul Labile Pogba is a French professional footballer who plays for Italian club Juventus in Serie A. He operates primarily as a central midfielder and is comfortable at playing both in attack ...more

42
10 10
Zinedine Zidane is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added age 46 Zinedine Yazid Zidane, nicknamed "Zizou", is a former French footballer and current coach of Real Madrid Castilla. He played as an attacking midfielder for the French national team, ...more

43
49 56
Pat White is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 32 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 Patrick Christian White is a former American football quarterback. He was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. White has also been a baseball outfielder. He ...more

44
1 2
Ester Ledecká is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Ari Aries added Ester Ledecká age 23 Ester Ledecká is a Czech snowboarder. She is the first Czech to win the Parallel Giant Slalom in snowboarding at the FIS Snowboard World Cup.

45
45 54
George Halas is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
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 George Stanley Halas, Sr., nicknamed "Papa Bear" and "Mr. Everything", was a player, coach, owner and pioneer in professional American football. He was the iconic founder and ...more

46
6 9
Franck Ribéry is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamAmroun1 added age 35 Franck Henry Pierre Ribéry, also known as Bilal Yusuf Mohammed as an adopted name since his conversion in 2006 to Islam, is a French footballer currently playing for German Bundesliga ...more

47
19 25
Willie Gault is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added age 58 Willie James Gault is a former American football wide receiver and Olympic athlete. He played in the National Football League for 11 seasons for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Raiders. ...more

48
31 40
Ben Roethlisberger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
DylanHempfing added age 36 Was an outstanding basketball and baseball player in his high school and college career. Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger Sr., nicknamed Big Ben, is an American football quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Miami ...more

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4 13
Dave DeBusschere is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Aron Bowlin added Died at 63 (1940-2003) David Albert DeBusschere was an American professional National Basketball Association player and coach and Major League baseball player. In 1996, DeBusschere was named as one of the 50 greatest ...more

50
41 61
Daunte Culpepper is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 41 Dominated basketball in high school, went on to become a three-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL Daunte Rachard Culpepper is a former American football quarterback. He last played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. Prior to joining the UFL, Culpepper enjoyed a ...more