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Friday, October 14th, 2011 at 9:10 am  |  65 responses

NFL Players’ Advice to LeBron James: Stick to Basketball


To be fair, some NFL players believe that LeBron James could be a hell of a pro football player, but most who’ve been asked about his chances so far would advise him to stay off the gridiron. From Fox Sports: “It wouldn’t be easy,’ Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall said. ‘I recommend he keep his NBA contract and just play the Madden video games if he misses football.’ … Like [LeBron] James, Bengals safety Chris Crocker also was drafted by Cleveland in 2003. Crocker was picked by the Browns, and he spent many evenings courtside at Quicken Loans Arena watching James up close. ‘There aren’t many guys with the athleticism and strength LeBron has in any sport,’ Crocker said. ‘But I also think guys pick the sports they pick for a reason. Just like (Chad) Ochocinco thinks he’s a soccer player until he gets up close and sees how skilled pro soccer players really are, there’s nothing easy about the NFL.’ … [former Ohio State and NFL linebacker Chris Spielman] said James is the ‘greatest athlete I’ve ever seen,’ but there’s more than just the physical contact he’d worry about in a hypothetical transition. ‘He’s the mentally weakest person I’ve ever seen,’ Spielman said. … Perennial Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates was a college basketball player who never played a down of college football but still caught on — and caught fire — after signing with the San Diego Chargers. Spielman said James ‘has surpassed Bo Jackson’ on his list of greatest pure athletes and would have a chance to join Gates in the club of rare athletes who make successful transitions from one sport to another. If he’d be willing to take the punishment, of course. ‘I think LeBron has a better chance of making the NFL and being an impact player than Michael Jordan had of making it in Double-A baseball,’ Spielman said. ‘I’d pay money to see him run routes. There’s no doubt, physically, that he has the skills.’”

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  • #6marjons

    hahaha mentally the weakest love it

  • Jer Boi

    ouch. mentally the weakest person he’s ever seen? I can believe that

  • http://www.nba.com/celtics lightsout

    jesus, that’s a hell of an insult.

  • T. Brown

    ‘He’s the mentally weakest person I’ve ever seen,’ Spielman said… Worst sports insult in recent memory. Ouch!

  • http://www.twitter.com/_dfrance dfrance21

    Wow, its like he’s just been waiting for someone to ask him about LeBron. lol.

  • T-Ray

    Who is Chris Spielman? Jk anyway that was pretty harsh but at the same time gave him a compliment I’d say it balances out.

  • MUBWAR

    who?

  • T-Money

    oh wow, chris spielman went in – whomever that is. but to get back on topic, two words: jimmy graham. killing the nfl right now and played one season of college football. he hadn’t played football before since the NINTH grade. and the guy made joel anthony look skilled and coordinated in his 4 years playing basketball at the U.

  • http://@whogotjazz.twitter.com MIGZ

    idk about the weakiest, chris spielman? keep bangin never heard of ya! but its true Lebron we dont want you to risk an injury of any sort try something else baby!

  • Brahsef

    I don’t understand why twitter makes news. If you’re part of a news outlet it should be illegal to report on tweets. It’s lazy, requires no investigative reporting, and at most is only a headline.

    It’s obvious Pete Carrol and Lebron were joking around, and it’s been made up into a large story. I blame this on the soap opera station of sports, espn. Terrible non-news

  • http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/10/13/2011-10-13_excop_we_fabricated_drug_raps_for_quotas.html Allenp

    Spielman went in on Bron.
    And Spielman use to be a linebacker with the Lions, I think. Pretty good cat, bruiser.
    But it’s true, the mental toughness needed to play pro football is crazy. I don’t think people appreciate the level of damage they inflict upon their bodies every week, and what it takes to get your body in shape to handle that punishment.
    It’s why I don’t watch the NFL anymore. It’s a bloodsport man, with the absolute worst arrangement for the players as far as contracts. And then they get shafted on medical help after they retire.

  • LA Huey

    Aside from the overly harsh “mentally weakest person” thing, I agree with Spielman. NBA players – hell, pros of any other sport – have the posh life in comparison to NFL players. Even if I had the requsite skill set and body, I don’t think I could be paid enough to play NFL football. Too taxing on your mind and body. Part of the reason I don’t watch it anymore.
    Back to the mentally weak comment, the way NFL players took it from the owners in their labor negotiations was pathetic. I understand they weren’t getting an MLB or pre-2011 NBA deal but how in the hell did they agree to take less of the revenue pie?

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    lebron needs to use that spielman quote as motivation… smh that’s terrible. I don’t disagree that you need to be tremendously mentally tough to play pro football tho.

  • bike

    I would think that it requires considerable mental as well as physical toughness to play pro b-ball.
    They play a lot of games, running up and down a hard surface, and take a lot of physical contact with virtually no padding or protection.

    Many basketball skills, especially the lateral movements on defense, are directly transferable to the football field.

    As far as getting hit, there were/are many good football players at the skill positions that did not favor contact i.e. Deion Sanders and Randy Moss.

    Let’s put some football players on the court with LeBron, no pads, and see how they fair after taking a full charge from LeBron driving to the basket.

  • http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2011/10/13/2011-10-13_excop_we_fabricated_drug_raps_for_quotas.html Allenp

    There is no comparison between the contact in football and basketball. NONE.
    Every tackle in football has the same force effect on your body as a moderate car crash.
    So they have dozens of moderate car crashes per game.
    The level of force exerted on the backs, knees and shoulders of offensive lineman is INSANE. The lineman who makes it through a career without major back, arm or knee surgery is unheard of. And this isn’t minor stuff, this is reconstructive, spine fusion stuff.
    I played football, only in high school but I was pretty good, and I’m telling you that to excel in football you have to be slightly insane when you’re on the field. That sport is crazy man.

  • Ali

    @ bike…Trust me, taking a charge on a basketball court and taking a hit on football field are two TOTALLY different things!

  • bike

    I’m not saying that the level of contact in the nba is equal to that in the nfl but to say that someone of LeBron’s size and athletic ability would completely wilt after one hard hit on the nfl field seems exaggerated. In football, it largely depends on the position. A running back takes an unfathomed amount of beatings during the course of a game whereas some receivers may not get hit once. And I would still say that getting an elbow in the face from someone built like Karl Malone would level even the toughest of nfl players.

  • robb

    @bike: youre kidding if you think taking a charge from bron is the same as taking a full on tackle from ANYBODY in the NFL. Even taking a offensive block from a tightend hurts more.

  • MLK4Life

    Getting hit by Ray Lewis or James Harrison is different than taking a charge from LeBron.

  • bike

    How do you know robb? When was the last time you took a charge from a 6’8″ guy that weighs 260-270 pounds that moves as fast as anyone in the nfl?

  • http://www.twitter.com/nflem41 Nicolas Fleming

    C’mon son…as fast as anyone in the NFL? I’m not saying he isn’t fast, but in a foot race, I’m taking a lot of NFL players before I’m taking Bron-Bron.

  • LA Huey

    bike, I’d say the NFL’s physicality is on a whole ‘nother level. NFL and NBA players train to take different levels of hits. Also, it’s not one hit that LBJ couldn’t take, it’s the toll (practices included). Unless they’re only using him for a couple endzone jumpballs a game, as soon as he catches it, dudes are going to swarm him. If they’re going to throw it to him 4-6 times a game he’s going to get his licks. And you can bet that those LBs and CBs would be champing at the bit to make an example out of him.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    The difference between taking a charge and making a tackle is the difference between a crashing into a light pole and having a head-on collision with another moving vehicle.
    Two objects moving in opposite directions that collide exert more force and cause more damage than one moving object hitting a stationary one.
    Taking a charge from LeBron ain’t no joke. But, i doubt it would bother most football players

  • bike

    From a purely physical standpoint, LeBron has a build that would be considered ideal for certain nfl positions such as wide receiver. He also has the athletic ability. Whether he has the mental makeup is anyone’s guess. No one knows and no one ever will since it will never happen.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    How did this become such a huge story that the media so it fit to ask NFL players?

  • Zack

    Even as a LeBron fan, I think he’s pretty weak mentally.

  • T-Money

    Seriously though, people have to stop pretending that no one outside the NFL can take an NFL hit. Bron is 6’8-260… most DBs are 180, most LBs are 240. Everybody is not Ray Lewis.

  • bike

    Exactly. Put LeBron on a serious football-oriented weight training program for a year and I suspect you would have a pretty scary speciman for anyone to bring down.

  • whooo!

    no reason for nba players to leave for the nfl given the contracts (guarenteed) are far superior in basketball. but hell, Brock Lesnar went from wrestling to NFL training camp, never having played since pee wee league. Bron coulda played football at Ohio State… and ya, look at Antonio Gates. NFL cats just don’t want their egos hurt to think Bron could stroll in to a sport they’ve dedicated their life to, but let’s be real – imagine how beastly Lebron would be if he actually TRAINED for a football body rather than a basketball one.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Megatron

    co-sign T-money completely

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    6’8″ 260 is big.
    In real life. anybody who has seen LeBron up close knows that he’s not a hulking massive figure. He’s svelte almost when you see him in clothes. His height means his bulk is divided all over his body more evenly.
    Conversely, football players tend to be more squat, compact and heavily muscled.
    It’s not just about pure weight, it’s about how that weight is distributed and the force deployed.
    I never said LeBron couldn’t play. He could play wide out, or maybe tight end if all he did was catch passes. Maybe.
    I disputed that he could play defensive end. And I agree that it takes a specific mindset to deal with the constant pounding of football.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    AllenP is right. Height is not necessarily a good thing in football. Why do you think receivers and QBs tend to be the ones always on the receiving end of most huge hits and not RBs/TEs? Or why offensive lineman seem to be injured on every play? Even though I think Bron would be a good receiver/TE in the NFl, his 6-8 frame would be a detriment. Why go for an upper-body hit when you could dive at his knees all day long?

  • bike

    Ed Jones was 6’9″, 270 lbs. and played defensive end–was all pro. Calvin Johnson is 6’5″ and 235 lbs. There are plenty of guys in the nfl that have somewhat slender builds in certain positions such as wide out. Speed and vertical leap are two combine measures that are considered important for wide receivers. Strength measures, such as bench press, not so much. LeBron’s height, vertical leap, and good hands would be a major asset for a receiver. Obviously, you are not going to put him on an offensive line or make a running back out of him.

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com yada

    they HATE the thought that someone from another sport can come and do what they do better!!!!! but they cant translate to bball. CALL A SPADE A SPADE. its just jealousy

  • http://shinefluid@aol.com yada

    how big is LEON HALL??? he went to michigan right? cmon man lebron truck this dude…EASY

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Ed “Too Tall Jones” played when the average size of an offensive lineman was 270 pounds or less. The average weight of today’s offensive lineman is around 330 pounds. That is such a massive difference I can’t believe you brought him up.

  • bike

    And if Ed Jones got the kind of training that today’s athletes get he probably would have weighed 20 pounds more. Okay, how about Harold Carmichael? He had a good career at wide receiver and was listed at 6’8” and around 225 lbs. Pretty svelte, huh?

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    There’s a difference between 6-5 and 6-8, huge difference. Also, Ed Too Tall Jones is in the minority because how many 6-8/6-9 skill players have there been since then?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Who the f**ck is speildman to be calling Lebron one of the mentally weakest people he has ever saw? People really need to know their roles, If you were never a recognizable player, I dont think you should be dissing anyone who’s career is 10 times better than yours.

  • chingy

    LBJ will only be playing as WR, maybe TE. No way you have a 6’8″ RB. As a WR, I cna’t see why he isn’t a crazy version of Calvin Johnson.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I’ve already said he could play wideout without a huge problem. Although, those crossing routes have made many players think twice.

  • T-Money

    allenp: cmon man, wes welker does crossing routes. and if jimmy grahamn can catch and block, best believe bron can. i think people have not watched graham at the u – he was straight garbage. and that’s the guy wreaking havoc in the nfl? tight end is the easiest position to just dump a guy into. run 10-12 years, button hook, pass right in the grill where the tiny db’s can’t reach. all day all night. / btw, i don’t even know why we’re discussing bron as anything other than a pass catcher since he was an all-state wr and never played any other position.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Bron can’t take a hit to the knees though. And his knees are some big targets. Wes Welker is 5’7, if you go low on him you’ll hit him in the face. LeBron, you’ll eventually break his leg.

  • blakos

    @Allenp, NFL is brutal and you are right there is no comparison between NFL and Basketball in terms of contact. The only difference in favour of Basketball is the toll the hardwood must take on your body.

    Have any of you seen a game of Rugby League? Its a sport played heavily here in NZ and Australia. Brutal no doubt. You (The US) should ditch NFL and play Rugby League, USA would eventually excel at it.

  • blakos

    @NBK: If you are tall you have to adjust your body position when going into contact. The only thing with nfl is guys are hitting you from a variety of angles.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    when your 6’8″ and running, its pretty difficult to keep moving and stay low enough to protect your knees. If he’s a wide receiver, running after the catch would be hugely important. There is no way this ever happens, simply because the risk of a (basketball) career ending injury is way way way too high.

  • bike

    As nbk says, this is all hypothetical since LeBron would be an idiot to so much as participate in one nfl full contact practice. But it’s fun to speculate. I will go out on a limb and say if Bron had choosen football instead of b-ball, he would have made a dam good wide out in the nfl.

  • @dEKNOWZ

    How many of you have seen LeBron James in person? I’m 6’3 and was 250lbs at the time, he made me look like a small child! He is a legit 6’8 and change and more 270 than 250. He’d be fine in the NFL production wise, He’s too good of an athlete. He’d be running fly routes all game and may get tackled in the endzone after the catch. If I were him I just wouldn’t do it because being in the NFL your contract isn’t guaranteed, but getting hurt is!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    NBA charges are less frequently full-on hits compared to NFL hits which are focused collisions. The offensive player is usually trying to avoid the charge by either slowing down or changing direction slightly and the defender is “pre-falling back” expecting the hit. That is not the same as 2 NFL players at full speed and full force colliding. IMO, many NFL could easily take a Shaq full-speed charge and not really feel it. Less than a handful of NBA players will take a full-speed NFL hit and feel ok. Like Vince Carter!

  • SKITTLESO5

    i LOVE the NBA ..and i like the NFL…..i am from Australia…if you guys think some BIG hits happen in NFL …google NRL australian rugby league…no pads big dudes hittin each other for 90 minutes with comparitively little breaks inbetween, check it out

  • blakos

    @Skittle:
    Go the mighty Warriors.

    @NBK it is hard to lower your body when your 6’8 and protect your knees, but rugby union players and (some)NRL players do it on the regular so it is possible. However none would have the speed that Lebron could most probably generate thus putting him at greater risk come collision time……

  • Dr. DL

    If Lebron ever played in the NFL Chris Spielman would be the Brian Bosworth to Lebron’s Bo. I mean come on many aspects of athleticism can be quantified and Lebron’s numbers are off the charts. OF COURSE he could play TE or WR in the NFL. Too tall or thin? Look at Plaxico Burress. What started off as friendly banter turned into some gloveless hate-boxing. NBA contracts make for better careers and of course he is best-suited to sticking to basketball but superlative statements like “weakest mentally” or claims that Lebron is too physically frail to play football are just pathetic. Not saying he would be the next Antonio Gates but he sure seems to have been designed for the role.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    No offense, and I know those Rugby guys are tough as he’ll. But as athletes, they are basically children compared to LeBron. They’re definitely tougher, but be real, what they do at the speed they do it is not the same as LeBron running wideout in the NFL. It just isn’t. Plus if LeBron played rugby I doubt he’d last a match, if even a practice.

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    You’d be surprised at the body’s ability to withstand and endure physical pain.
    Remember getting knocked over the first time in a sports match? You were in pain.
    Remember the 50th time it happened? You were in pain, but could deal with it.
    The body adapts to physical pain, the same way it adapts to exercise in muscle memory.
    Journal articles strongly indicate the body has an ability to adapt to pain – it’s a protective adaptation.
    Sensory afferents are affected etc. Look it up instead of talking isht without having any idea WHAT you’re talking about.

  • SKITTLESO5

    no doubt @nbk rugby guys arnt as good athletes as NBA guys or the athletic guys in NFL…but there are exceptions , some of the Wing player in League or Union are as atheltic as hell , a guy named Israel

  • SKITTLESO5

    Israel Folau i meant to say used to play pro Rugby League, now plays a different code of football called ARL…..i think guys like this could play NFL..too

  • http://slamonline.com The Philosopher

    The King has people from everywhere jealous of him.
    LONG… LIVE… THE KING.

  • blakos

    Not sure what rugby you have seen NBK most likely some Northern Hempisphere dribble but there are some oustanding athletes from the South Pacific, just not at Lebrons size. Jonah Lomu circa 1995, Rupeni Caucaunibuca, Christian cullen, Joe Rokococo, Digby Ioane Sonny Bill Williams, Jarrod Hayne (Most have some form of polnesian bloodlines) to name a few. Try watching highlights of those players at pace.
    The games are different and the athletes in the NFL definately are on a higher plane, have no doubt there is more to Rugby Union/Rugby League than toughness.
    Oh and Lebron would be a beast at rugby. Of that i have no doubt.

  • duhwinning

    @allenp Im sure Lebron was a better hs football player than you. People act as if he never played football. And all this mentally weak talk is bs, i mean hes no MJ but who is? at the end of the day Lebron is a gifted individual who would probably excel at any athletic endeavor. And the reason people pick basketball over football is because who wants to spend an entire game/match/event where you dont touch the ball or only play one side of the ball.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    ^You sure?

  • Jose

    NFL players, or anyone in any profession, for that matter, are normally very defensive about ‘random’ people being prodigious enough to excel at what they do without investing the time they have. Many NFL players, especially wide-outs, will also never admit that they are just frustrated basketball players who were not good enough on the court, and took their non-pro-level bball skills which adapted well enough for successful football careers. Face it. If Lebron worked at being a wideout or TE, he’s hall of fame. Easy.

  • derrick rose

    mj is the best ever

  • Tolli

    @dEKNOWZ – I totally hear you. I met LeBron a few weeks ago here on the job. I’m 5’11, 220lbs, a prototypical RB. I’m not tall, but I hardly ever feel small since I’m so wide. Standing next to him, I instantly thought about how he’d be a beast TE. He’s a legit 6’8, 260!

  • duhwinning

    yeah im sure. considering you list your credentials as a former hs football player. no mention of college or semi-pro. cmon? lebron coulda played college football at the d1 level but decided instead to go with a sport that compensates the individual and actually pays for star power. and lets be honest, basketball players make more money than football players, in their contracts and endorsements. I mean if you want to post a comment with your career stats im sure i can dig up lebrons hs stats somewhere. And i cosign “jose” a great example is T.O. he looks decent enough in these industry games but lets face it he would get ran out of a nba training camp.

  • duhwinning

    And i think everyone is forgetting why basketball was invented….to keep football players in shape during the off-season. so why wouldnt they share the same skill sets?

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