These Athletes Were Drafted By MLB But Starred In A Different Sport

baseball | 1/16/19

Two-sport standout Kyler Murray is under contract with the Oakland Athletics. However, the Oklahoma Sooners quarterback declared for the NFL draft. Now, he must decide if he is going to honor the contract or make the jump to football.

While very few people are blessed with the athletic gifts to make it as a professional, these athletes were doubly blessed. These MLB draftees actually starred in a different sport, and some even decided to step away from the diamond to pursue other dreams.

Danny Ainge

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The BYU alum was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1977 amateur draft. He would make the major leagues in 1979, mostly as a second baseman. Ainge is the youngest Blue Jay in history to hit a home run at 20 years and 77 days.

After three seasons, he decided to pursue a career in basketball, and was chosen by the Boston Celtics in 1981. The Oregon native is a two-time NBA champion, and is now the general manager of the franchise.

Drew Henson

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Henson signed a six-year $17-million contract to forgo the NFL to play for the Yankees. The former backup quarterback played a total of eight games in the majors, then announced he was leaving the team to focus on football in 2003.

During his football career, Henson was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In April 2009, he was released from the Lions after the team selected Matthew Stafford as the first overall pick.

Brandon Weeden

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Weeden played five seasons in the minor leagues after high school. A second-round pick for the Yankees in 2002, the aspiring quarterback never made it past Class A. After minor league appearances with the Dodgers and Royals, injuries affected the pitcher, and he quit the sport altogether.

Weeden focused on football, enrolling at Oklahoma State in 2007. In 2012, at 28 years old, Weeden was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, becoming the oldest player ever taken in the first round.

DJ Dozier is up in two slides!

D.J. Dozier

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Dozier was first drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 18th round in 1983. He ended up turning down the Tigers and going to college to keep pursue his NFL dreams. Dozier was considered a first-round bust after the Minnesota Vikings drafted him in 1987.

He didn’t sign with the Tigers, but that didn’t mean the New York Mets wouldn’t sign him, which they did. In 1992, Dozier was called up to the major leagues on May 6.

Daunte Culpepper

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A tremendous athlete in high school, Culpepper was selected by the Yankees in 1995. The athletic marvel didn’t sign and went to college at UCF. Despite a love for baseball, Culpepper was committed to playing football as a quarterback.

After college, he emerged as a three-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings. Following a serious knee injury, he played sparsely for the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, and even had a stop with the Detroit Lions.

Jameis Winston

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Winston was considered the second-best baseball prospect in the state of Alabama in 2012. Even though he made it clear he planned to enroll in college, the Texas Rangers drafted him in the 15th round..

In two years of college ball, he compiled an incredible 1.94 ERA. But, Winston decided the mound wasn’t for him. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his contract with the Bucs contains a clause prohibiting him from playing baseball. Today, he is still the team’s starting quarterback.

After a Heisman Trophy-winning season, this running back not only played for the Miami Dolphins but played in the Phillies minor league system as well.

Kyle Long

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Long is an intriguing baseball prospect on this list. In high school he starred in baseball and football. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2008 MLB Draft, but didn’t sign. Instead, he elected to honor his commitment to play the sport at Florida State University.

Legal and academic issues led to him focusing on football. Long’s athleticism has proven worthy for the Chicago Bears, where he’s a three-time Pro Bowler.

Jack Del Rio

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Another Blue Jay on this list is the former Oakland Raiders coach. Del Rio was drafted out of high school, but opted to accept a scholarship to the University of Southern California. From there, he would play as a linebacker, eventually playing for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs.

Following his playing career, Del Rio was a linebacker coach for the Baltimore Ravens, winning Super Bowl XXXV. After retiring, he got into coaching and has been the head coach in Jacksonville and Oakland.

Ricky Williams


After a Heisman Trophy-winning season with Texas, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted the running back in the eighth round of the 1995 draft. An outfielder, Williams played in 170 games across four seasons in the Phillies farm system.

After the team started shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Williams would be selected by the Expos and Rangers, but opted for a full-time NFL career. He only played in 147 games, or 23 fewer games than he did in baseball.

Up next, another Heisman Trophy winner who never picked football or baseball, but focused his talents on basketball instead.

Eric Decker

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The aspiring outfielder was drafted twice by MLB teams – first by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 then by the Minnesota Twins in 2009. His performance at the University of Minnesota showed his pure athleticism, but he prioritized his career on football.

The wide receiver was drafted by the Denver Broncos where he played for eight seasons. He also played for the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. He had a one-year stint in New England, but retired from football altogether in August 2018.

Golden Tate

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Tate was drafted twice as an outfielder. The Notre Dame alum was drafted in the 42nd round by the Arizona Cardinals out of high school in 2007. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants drafted Tate in the 50th round.

That same year, the Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the second round. The one-time Pro Bowler would play a prominent role in the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory in 2014. Tate has also played for the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.

Charlie Ward

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Though Ward never played baseball in college, he was drafted as a pitcher by the Brewers in 1993, and again the following year by the Yankees. However, the Heisman Trophy winner didn’t pick football or baseball, and instead focused his talents on basketball.

Ward played in the NBA from 1994-2005. He played for the New York Knicks, making a Finals appearance with the team. The Florida State alum also played for the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets.

Another Heisman Trophy winner made the list, but now, he plays in the CFL.

Jake Locker

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Locker was a draft pick in the NFL and MLB. The Angels selected the pitcher-outfielder in the 10th round of the 2009 draft. However, he didn’t sign so he could attend the University of Washington to play football.

A first-round draft pick for the Tennessee Titans, Locker only started 23 games in a four-season career. Locker would announce his retirement from football in 2015, citing a lack of desire to continue playing the game.

Dan Marino

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At one point in his life, Dan Marino was an elite pitching prospect. In 1979, the Pittsburgh alum was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the draft, but focused on playing quarterback in college. Ultimately, the nine-time Pro Bowler made the right decision.

The former MVP set single-season records of 5,084 passing yards, 48 touchdown passes, nine 300-yard passing games, and four 400-yard passing games. In his first year of eligibility, Marino was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Johnny Manziel

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Manziel played middle infielder as a teen before foregoing baseball for football. However, the San Diego Padres drafted him in 2014, but he never signed with the team. He focused on football, becoming a star when he played for Texas A&M.

Unfortunately, his NFL career never took off with the Browns, which led to his release in 2016. Following his brief stint, “Johnny Football” has since taken his talents to the CFL, where he plays for the Montreal Alouettes.

Up next, a quarterback who never saw the CFL, but led the Seahawks to its first Super Bowl victory in 2014.

John Elway

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The former number one pick was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1981 amateur draft. He was six picks ahead of Tony Gwynn and received money for playing with the team’s short-season affiliate.

But, for some reason, football was in his blood. After being drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Elway had his way and was traded to the Denver Broncos. Some felt he would have been a star if he stuck to baseball.

Tom Brady

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The five-time Super Bowl champion was drafted by the Montreal Expos as a catcher. He was briefly scouted by the Montreal Expos, but was never offered him a formal contract. Brady would then be drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Taken in the 6th round of the NFL draft, he he considered as the biggest steal in the history of the draft. Brady is among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time thanks to all of his accomplishments.

Russell Wilson

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Russell Wilson’s past is well documented. The Baltimore Orioles drafted him after high school, but he, like other on this list, turned them down. He instead went to North Carolina State that fall. He would spend two seasons as a second baseman in the Colorado Rockies organization.

Wilson attended spring training for the Texas Rangers and Yankees. Despite having a passion for baseball, the Ohio native led the Seattle Seahawks to their first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Deion Sanders

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Sanders played parts of nine seasons in MLB while putting in 14 years in the NFL. The NFL Hall of Famer played with the Yankees, Braves, Reds, and Giants during his nine-year baseball career. In 1992, he was allowed to play in the 1992 World Series for the Braves.

“Primetime” is the only player to have appeared in both the Fall Classic and the Super Bowl. He won the Lombardi Trophy twice with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Bo Jackson

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Bo Jackson was an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. He refused to sign with Tampa Bay in the NFL, feeling that the Bucs would keep him from ever playing baseball. The Royals took advantage . of the situation and signed the two-athlete star.

He was the MVP of the 1989 All-Star Game, and he had a Pro Bowl selection with the Raiders in 1990. Jackson did catch on with stints with the White Sox and later the Angels.