February 3, 2012

Tom Brady...SuperBowl Catcher?

During Sunday's SuperBowl, much of the focus is going to be on the two quarterbacks...Tom Brady and Eli Manning.

You're going to hear a ton about the Manning lineage and let's face it, with a father like Archie and a brother like Peyton...Eli was destined to be an NFL quarterback.

That wasn't the same for Tom Brady.

All dude had were the tales of Junipero Sierra High School alums Gregg Jefferies and Barry Bonds looming over him.  Yes, Brady was looking to step out of the shadows of All-Star baseball players.

“I thought Tommy was a sure thing as a baseball player,” his former high school coach Pete Jensen said.  “Even more a sure thing than Gregg or Barry, believe it or not. As good a football player as he was, I thought he was a better baseball player in high school.”

In the 1995 draft, Jensen's thoughts became a reality...the Montreal Expos took a chance on Brady, selecting the then-catcher in the 18th round.

And since we know now that Brady was destined to become, well, Tom Brady and not, say, Michael Barrett...it's interesting to look at some other notable recent NFL players that turned their back on baseball.

Famously, future Heisman Trophy award winner Ricky Williams spent four years as a professional baseball player in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, compiling a .211 batting average in 613 Minor League plate appearances.  A shortstop in high school, he became an outfielder in the pro ranks.  His former runningmate in Miami, Ronnie Brown also has a baseball past...having been selected by the Seattle Mariners out of high school.

In the 2000 MLB draft, the Colorado Rockies made current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick the 887th overall pick.  The kicker...dude hadn't played baseball since he was a 13-year-old eighth grader.

Current Pittsburgh Steelers teammates Hines Ward and Mewelde Moore were drafted in 1994 by the Florida Marlins and 2000 by the San Diego Padres respectively.  Former Steeler, Antwaan Randle El, was picked by the Chicago Cubs of the 1997 draft.

And yet another Steeler, backup quarterback Dennis Dixon was also a highly recruited baseball player and found himself drafted twice...initially by the Cincinnati Reds in 2003 and again, in 2007, by the Atlanta Braves.   Dixon went on to hit just .176 in 74 at bats with two Atlanta Braves rookie league teams before returning to college.

Free agent wide receiver Roydell Williams was selected by the Reds in the fifth round of the 2000 draft.  A year later, Cincinnati Bengals runningback Cedric Benson found himself snatched up by the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Journeyman quarterback Kerry Collins saw himself get drafted three separate times.  He was first drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1990 and was one of three straight future NFL players (Greg McMurtry and Rodney Peete were the others) they picked.  The next year, Detroit tried again taking him in the 60th round.  Lastly, he found himself again selected in the 1994 draft...this time by the Toronto Blue Jays.

But I guess it isn't all that uncommon for high school quarterbacks to be two-sport stars.  Consider the 1979 MLB Draft. John Elway, Dan Marino and Jay Schroeder (all quarterbacks), were selected ahead of future New York Yankees great Don Mattingly.

Oh...what could have been?


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