NFL, MLB, NBA: players who have shone in several sports

Bo Jackson, the superstar

Bo Jackson is perhaps the most impressive athlete, among those who have had a career in two disciplines. He shone in American football and baseball, but above all he managed to play in the NFL and MLB during the same seasons. Initially, Jackson was a US soccer star at Auburn University. But, cheated by the boss of the NFL franchise where he was to sign, he branched off to MLB in 1986, at the Kansas City Royals. Three years later, he was voted MVP of the All Star Game.

Bo Jackson finally landed in the NFL in 1987, with the Los Angeles Raiders. The organization of his year went like this: from April to October, he played baseball, then, from November to January, that is half a season, he started playing American football. In proportion to the number of games played, his statistics turned out to be excellent, and Jackson was an NFL All-Star in 1990. But an injury ended his career in US football the same year, and slowed his baseball career. . Bo Jackson definitely put away glove and bat in 1994. Nike had carried out an advertising campaign, using his double career (see below).

Jim Thorpe, the precursor

Like Bo Jackson, Jim Thorpe played baseball and American football, but having cut his career. And especially having first been double Olympic champion, in pentathlon and decathlon at the Stockholm Games in 1912. But this triumph was followed by a disqualification, for having been semi-pro in baseball, before going to the Olympics. (He finally got his medals back in 1983).

Jim Thorpe went for a good professional on his return to the United States. He played in MLB from 1913 to 1919, mainly at the New York Giants, without being an extraordinary player. Then from 1920, Thorpe played in the NFL, with success. He stayed there for eight seasons, in six different teams, including the Oorang Indians, which were made up only of Native American players. Thorpe was 41 when he retired in 1928. He was later elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Bob Hayes, Olympic gold and Super Bowl

Bob Hayes was also an Olympic track and field champion. At the Tokyo Games in 1964, he won the queen race, the 100m, in 10 »0. No one had been so fast at the time in the final of the Olympics. Then Hayes became a very successful American football player. He played 10 years with the Dallas Cowboys and then spent a season with the San Francisco 49ers as a receiver.

Bob Hayes won the Super Bowl with the Cowboys in 1972. He was also a four-time Pro Bowl winner, the NFL’s All Star Game, and twice featured on the championship team. Hayes ended his career in 1975 with 7,414 yards gained and 71 touchdowns marked. He was logically elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Bob Hayes in 2000, shortly before his death (in 2002).  Around his neck, his Olympic gold medal, on one of his fingers, the ring that every winner of the Super Bowl receives.  (P. Gripe/The Team)

Bob Hayes in 2000, shortly before his death (in 2002). Around his neck, his Olympic gold medal, on one of his fingers, the ring that every winner of the Super Bowl receives. (P. Gripe/The Team)

Deion Sanders, almost double champion

Deion Sanders was also a professional in the NFL and MLB. In baseball, he was an honest player, nothing more, mainly at the Atlanta Braves. But, in American football, he was excellent, in the positions of cornerback and kick returner, especially for the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. Sanders was also elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.

But he is also known for being the only player to hit a home run and mark a touch down during the same week. Deion Sanders is also the only player to have appeared in the Super Bowl and the World Series. He was champion with the 49ers and the Cowboys. But he lost the World Series with the Braves in 1992. This did not prevent him from shining there, with in particular a good average of 53.3% success at bat.

Danny Ainge, MLB player, NBA star

Danny Ainge is known to have played 15 years in the NBA, as a back, especially in Boston, with whom he was champion in 1984 and 1986, and a little in Sacramento, Portland and Phoenix. He averaged 11.5 points per game. Ainge entered the All Star Game in 1988 as a Celtics player. What is less known is that his entry into professional sports was through baseball.

Danny Ainge played for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979 to 1981, mostly as a second or third baseman, with modest stats. At the same time, he was a student at Brigham Young University and played basketball there. When Ainge decided to try his luck in the NBA, legal proceedings were necessary for the Celtics to buy out his contract from the Blue Jays.

At the end of his career, Danny Ainge played for the Phoenix Suns and was notably a finalist in the Championship in 1993. (M. Deschamps/L'Équipe)

At the end of his career, Danny Ainge played for the Phoenix Suns and was notably a finalist in the Championship in 1993. (M. Deschamps/L’Équipe)

Charlie Ward, the university star

Charlie Ward was an American football star in college. Then he decided to make a career in the NBA… With the college of Florida State, Ward was NCAA champion and best college football player in 1993. But he did not want to start in the NFL, unless he had guarantees of doing career. A little small to be a quarterback (1.88 m), his position, and having made no secret of his hesitation about the rest of his career, he was not selected by any NFL team.

On the other hand, as he was a good basketball player, the New York Knicks chose him in the first round of the NBA draft in 1994. Charlie Ward played 10 years for the New York team, as a point guard. He started when the Knicks played (and lost) the final in 1999 against San Antonio. In his career, Ward averaged 6.3 points and 4.0 assists per game. He ended his career with short stints in Sacramento and Houston.


Dave Winfield, the one everyone wanted. Dave Winfield is an MLB legend. He played 22 seasons there, mostly with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees and helped the Toronto Blue Jays win the World Series in 1992. But before his professional career began, Winfield was shining in every sport. So much so that he was also drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL in 1973. But he decided to pursue a career solely in baseball.

Michael Jordan, in search of the double. NBA legend Michael Jordan would have liked to have known such success in baseball. In 1994, at age 31, after his first retirement, Jordan joined the Birmingham Barons, a branch of the Chicago White Sox. But he hasn’t surpassed that level, averaging just 20.2% batting success. No MLB for him, but a resounding comeback in the NBA, a year later.

Babe Ruth, star in baseball and… baseball. Considered the best player in the history of baseball, Babe Ruth has only known this sport. What’s on this list then? Ruth has the distinction of having shone as a pitcher and then as a drummer, which is very rare. With the Boston Red Sox, he won more than 20 games in a season, twice. Then, with the New York Yankees, he was a hitter home runs peerless, long record holder of the number of these little gems.

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