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The Best Two-Sport Athletes (VIDEOS)

by Photo of Jake Langbecker

A look at 5 of the best athletes to play football and baseball

The Best Two-Sport Athletes (VIDEOS)

In the wake of Russell Wilson's decision to leave the Colorado Rockies' organization and pursue football for the Wisconsin Badgers, Charged is looking at five of the best athletes to play football and baseball in recent history. Be sure to check out some of the rare and cool videos as well.

1. Deion Sanders - This was a tough choice. Both Sanders and Bo Jackson, #2 on the list, were successful at the pro level in baseball and football. I'm giving the nod to Sanders because Jackson's career was cut short by injuries and because Deion "Primetime" Sanders is the only player to ever play in a World Series game and a Super Bowl. Primetime played for the Yankees, Reds, Braves and Giants of the MLB and the Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins and Ravens in the NFL.

Deion enjoyed a successful NFL career as a cornerback, kick returner and occasionally as a wide receiver. He was elected to the football Hall of Fame in 2011, an 8-time pro bowler he finished with 53 interceptions and 19 defensive and return touchdowns. Sanders is one of only two players to record a touchdown in six different ways, (interception return, fumble return, kick return, punt return, receiving and rushing). 

In the Major Leagues, Sanders, an outfielder, was a career .263 hitter, with 186 stolen bases. He had his best season in 1992 for the Braves when he hit .304 and had 28 stolen bases. 

Below check out a rare video of him, Ken Griffey Jr., and Mike Conley Sr. competing in a slam dunk contest as well as a baseball clip comparing him to current Pirate Andrew McCutchen. 

2. Bo Jackson - Many would argue Jackson deserves to be at the top of this list as the only player to be recognized as an All-Star in both sports and a Heisman Trophy winner. Unfortunately his career was cut short by a hip injury and he never reached his full potential.

Much like Sanders, Jackson was known for his blazing speed but also possessed a lot of power on the baseball diamond. Jackson was a career .250 hitter with 141 home runs, and 82 stolen bases. His best season was 1989 when he batted .256 and was fourth in the league in home runs (32) and RBIs (105).

In four NFL seasons, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jackson holds the rushing record for Monday Night Football with a 229 yard performance. Considering Jackson had to share carries with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, his career numbers are quite impressive and include some highlight runs. 

3. John Elway - Elway never appeared in a Major League game but was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees and played for two summers in their minor league system. Although he never made it to the big leagues, he infamously leveraged his baseball skills to force a trade. 

Elway was drafted first overall by the Baltimore Colts in the 1983 NFL Draft and threatened to join the Yankees full time if they did not trade him. Eventually the Colts obliged and traded him to the Denver Broncos. Elway went on to a Hall of Fame career as a quarterback with the Broncos and was a two-time Super Bowl winner. 

We'll never know how Elway would have fared as a ballplayer but we can always wonder what would have happened if the Colts had called his bluff and refused to trade him. Luckily for Broncos fans, that wasn't the case.

4. Jeff Samardzija - As the only active player on this list it is hard to judge his career achievements thus far. As a wide receiver at Notre Dame his sophomore season, Samardzija caught 77 passes for 1215 yards and 15 touchdowns. His junior season he caught 78 balls for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns and was named a first-team All-American. He owns the single season school records for touchdowns and receiving yards and the career record for receiving yards.

Samardzija was considered a borderline first round pick in the NFL draft but decided to pursue baseball full-time after the Cubs selected him in the 5th round and offered him a lucrative signing bonus. Samardzija is a pitcher who has started and come out of the bullpen. He saw time in the majors in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The 2011 season is his first full season in the big leagues. So far he has appeared in 33 games, throwing 44.1 innings with a 4.06 ERA. 

5. Chris Weinke - There are a number of two-way athletes that could have occupied this last spot. Pat White, Drew Henson and Chad Hutchinson come to mind as other players who had short NFL careers and also minor league baseball careers. However, I gave the edge to Weinke because he was a Heisman trophy winning quarterback at Florida State.

Weinke spent six season playing minor league baseball making it as high as the Triple-A level. At the age of 25, he enrolled at Florida State to play football. Weinke's Noles went to three national championship games during his time there. His sophomore season he was unable to finish the season due to a neck injury. His junior year, he led them to the championship and an undefeated record. As a senior, he led them back to the title game and won the Heisman trophy but lost the championship to the Oklahoma Sooners. Weinke finished his career with 32-3 record.

Weinke was draft in the 4th round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He started 15 games as a rookie and had a woeful 1-14 record. Weinke spent the next three seasons as a backup for the Panthers making the occasional start and then one season as a backup for the San Francisco 49ers. Weinke last appeared in an NFL game in 2007.

If you think I missed anyone on this list, leave a comment below or find me on twitter @jake_langbecker.

Before the next baseball prospect bolts for football, make sure you buy all your MLB tickets on Charged.


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