Wednesday , Jul , 20 , 2011 Paul Eide

Nate Robinson In The NFL: How Realistic Is It?

While the list is pretty long of athletes who have played both baseball and football in college and at least one sport professionally after that (or both if you're Bo or Deion), finding a combination football/basketball player is very rare.

Obviously on the professional level the seasons would overlap at certain points making it nearly impossible, but very few college athletes have even put themselves in a position to accomplish it by being good enough at both sports.

Former Florida State Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Charlie Ward played both sports in college but then gave up football to play in the NBA for the New York Knicks.The only person to ever play in both the NBA and in the NFL is former Vikings coach Bud Grant, who played two seasons in the NBA (winning a title in 1949-50) before quitting to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1951. Though he didn’t do it simultaneously, he’s as close as anyone has ever gotten.

In recent memory, NBA players who have actually played two professional sports with success though not at the same time, are led by Mark Hendrickson and Dave DeBusschere who both pitched in the major leagues. Danny Ainge is behind them somewhere because he hit .220 in three years with the Toronto Blue Jays before joining the Celtics.

So how feasible is Robinson’s attempt should he actually attempt it? Robinson last played football in his freshman year of college at the University of Washington, where he was actually recruited to play football primarily. His dad Jacque played running back for the Huskies and is the eighth all-time leading rusher in school history.

Robinson finished his freshman season with two interceptions and 34 tackles and played in all 13 games, starting the final six. His most notable accomplishment on the gridiron came at the end of the 2002 season in the Apple Bowl. Playing against the rival Washington State Cougars who were ranked third in the country, he intercepted a pass in the final minutes of the game with his team down by three. The interception keyed the upset as the Huskies scored on the next possession.

At 5-9, 180 with a 43.5 vertical he has the raw skills to play corner in the NFL, but he hasn’t played football for six years.

The other part of the equation is money; isn’t it always? He’s scheduled to make over $4 million dollars this year in the NBA, but obviously if the lockout continues as long as everyone thinks it will he won’t get that anyway. The most money he could make in the NFL thanks to the rookie minimum salary is roughly $340,000, subject to the CBA if it ever gets approved, obviously, but that is a rough estimate.

It could prove especially costly if he were to get hurt at any point while playing in the NFL, assuming he ever made a team to begin with, because he wouldn’t make any more guaranteed money in the NBA. But, according to, he’s made over $13 million dollars in his NBA career to this day; so maybe he is comfortable enough he is willing to risk it.

If it were me, I’d chill, take the year off from the NBA and let it get sorted out, then come back and ball and make some real money. But maybe he’s trying to realize a goal his dad never did?

What would you do?

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