Tim Tebow's admission that he's pursuing a professional baseball career has drawn a lot of strong responses from all corners of the sports world. Tebow faces long odds after 11 years away from the game, but his athleticism suggests he might have what it takes to make a legitimate run at crossing over from football to baseball.
If he does, he'll join an accomplished -- and short -- list of athletes who excelled in more than one sport. It's not an easy task, but some of the greatest athletes in history have managed to pile up impressive accomplishments across multiple disciplines. Here's a look at the lofty company Tebow hopes to join.
Deion Sanders: Baseball and Football
One of the most recognizable two-way stars, Sanders remains the only athlete to play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl. He once famously played in an Atlanta Braves playoff game on a Saturday night before suiting up for a football game on Sunday afternoon, and then jetting off for a second baseball playoff game that evening (although he didn't play in that last game).
Bob Hayes: Football and Track & Field
Rarely has the nickname "Bullet" fit someone as it fit Bob Hayes. The speedster was the world's fastest man in 1964 thanks to Olympic Games medals in the 60-yard, 100-yard, and 100-meter races -- all of which were punctuated with world record marks. One years after earning Olympic gold in Tokyo, "Bullet Bob" pulled on a helmet and lined up at wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. He wasn't too shabby on the gridiron, earning a posthumous Hall of Fame induction in 2009.
Jackie Robinson: Baseball, Basketball, Football And Track & Field
Robinson became best-known for breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, but as an athlete at UCLA, he was an outright phenom. He became the first athlete in school history to letter in four separate sports, and some have argued that baseball was his worst sport at the time -- in one season with the Bruins baseball team, he batted a measly .097.Obviously, things turned around for Robinson on the diamond, although it's tempting to imagine what he might have accomplished in the other sports.
Marion Jones: Basketball And Track & Field
Before PED admissions tarnished her accomplishments, Jones was an acclaimed multi-sport star at North Carolina. In 1994, she started for the NCAA championship-winning women's basketball team. Shortly thereafter, she quit basketball to focus on her career as a track and field athlete. She won five Olympic medals in Sydney, all of which were eventually stripped from her. In 2010, she made a brief return to basketball, playing 33 games for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock.
Herschel Walker: Football, Bobsled And MMA
After three All-America selections and a Heisman Trophy, Walker embarked on a 14-year professional football career. But that wasn't enough for the supremely talented running back, who had excelled in track and field in high school. In 1992, he qualified for the Winter Olympic Games in the two-man bobsled. Walker and his partner finished seventh in the Games. More recently, Walker participated in two MMA fights held by Strikeforce. He won both fights, the latest one coming in 2011.
Jim Brown: Football and Lacrosse
Today, we know him as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. But as a college star at Syracuse, Brown was known for his prowess in both football and lacrosse. During his playing days, Brown was considered the best lacrosse player at the college level. He has been enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the lacrosse hall of fame.
Bo Jackson: Baseball And Football
Bo knew his way around the football gridiron and the baseball diamond. He was the first two-way star to be named to the All-Star Game in two different sports, appearing in the MLB All-Star game in 1989 and the NFL Pro Bowl in 1990. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, Jackson famously turned down the NFL at first to pursue a career with the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, a 1990 hip injury derailed his career in both sports. But many who watched him in his prime still consider him one of the greatest athletes in history.
Brian Jordan: Baseball And Football
After starring at University of Richmond, Brian Jordan pursued careers in both MLB and the NFL. It went well for a while: In three seasons playing professional football, he led the Atlanta Falcons in tackles one year, and was named as an alternate to the NFL's Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, Jordan was rising through St. Louis' minor-league system. But in 1992, the Cardinals offered him a new contract that featured a $1.7 million signing bonus. The only catch? He had to give up football and focus on baseball. Jordan took the money and ran away from the NFL. It worked out just fine: His MLB career lasted until 2006, and he made one appearance in the MLB All-Star Game.
Gene Conley: Baseball And Basketball
Conley enjoyed a productive 11-season career in Major League Baseball, from 1952 to 1963. His first year as a professional athlete, he also played forward for the Boston Celtics, but gave that up to focus solely on baseball. But in 1958, he picked basketball up again, re-joining the Celtics for a stretch that would last until 1964. He won three NBA championships in that time, to go with a World Series win with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957. That makes him one of two athletes to win championships in two of the four major U.S. sports.
Jim Thorpe: Track & Field And Football
At the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, King Gustav V of Sweden put it best.
"Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world," he told Jim Thorpe, who had just won gold medals in both the pentathlon and decathlon. Thorpe was also a standout in basketball and baseball, but he was even more impressive as a football star, becoming a two-time All-American in college and impressing future president Dwight Eisenhower, who later said of Thorpe: "He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw."
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