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
1,041 159
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
RussellHinsley added age 57
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
1,151 342
LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Veggamattic added age 35
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
609 162
Deion Sanders is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
madd added age 52
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
642 233
Wilt Chamberlain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Dec. 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
499 175
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
MarioKidd added age 83
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
449 160
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Sportsman added age 33
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
193 40
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added Dec. 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
365 163
Steve Nash is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
bfmhf added age 45
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
9
426 202
Allen Iverson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 44
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
10
360 169
Tony Gonzalez is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 43
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
247 101
Russell Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AndrewGiessen added age 31
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
294 152
John Elway is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 59
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
112 28
Jesse Owens is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
rosemary-hallett added Dec. 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
122 37
Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
aman ikram added age 57
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
221 128
Antonio Gates is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 39
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
263 165
Brock Lesnar is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 42
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
219 132
Shaquille O'Neal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Gookin added age 47
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
18
193 116
Hakeem Olajuwon is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 56
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
19
67 13
Jackie Robinson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tangy Tiger added Dec. 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
136 77
Julius Peppers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 39
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
162 105
Tim Duncan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 43
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
123 77
Nate Robinson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
AdamKoalaSchoenberg added age 34
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
135 96
Eric Decker is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
age 32
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
24
124 90
Ray Lewis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
KirkSaw added age 44
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
25
69 38
Michael Jordan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Athletes Who Could Have Dominated a Second Sport
Tom Derr added age 56
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