How Does Kyler Murray Rank Against Other Two-Sport Professional Athletes?
Kyler Murray’s decision to choose football over baseball surprised many in the sporting world. Murray, who just won the Heisman Trophy, was projected as one of the 10 best prospects if he declared for the NFL Draft. The NFL is the pinnacle of professional sports in the US while the MLB is stuck behind the NBA in third place. Murray’s skill set has provided him with a unique choice to select which pro sport he will play and in honor of this historical selection. I will take a look into the past at some notable names who had the power to make a similar choice with Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Tim Tebow.
Jackson and Sanders were both drafted by the MLB’s Kansas City Royals in the mid 1980s, but Tebow was simply signed by the New York Mets as a free agent. The pressure on Kyler Murray to perform is even greater than these past three, as he looks to be the first person ever drafted in the top 10 in both the NFL and the MLB drafts. Murray was picked by the Oakland A’s at ninth overall in the 2018 MLB draft, which stunned the media. After being drafted by Oakland, Murray signed a $5 million guaranteed contract with the A’s, but would remain at Oklahoma to take the starting quarterback position
Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders played both sports at the same time because there was less emphasis on player safety and there was less importance on picking one sport. Jackson played in the NFL and the MLB for four years while Sanders played eight seasons of double duty. Both were above average players: Bo Jackson is known for scaling the outfield wall after making a running grab in the 1989 MLB All-Star game, which he was named MVP of. Meanwhile, Sanders led the entire MLB with 14 triples in 1992. These men could float between sports because there was not a culture forcing them to pick one sport over the other. This brings Tim Tebow back into the conversation.
Tebow was playing baseball until his senior year of high school when he stopped so he could enroll early at The University of Florida to participate in spring football practices. He could have played both sports, but the culture of sports now is to specialize in one sport. After winning the Heisman trophy at Florida, Tebow’s NFL career was short-lived as the winner spent three years in the league. Tebow is now assigned to the New York Mets double-A team, looking to continue his path to the majors after an injury cut his season short last year.
Murray has the potential to become the greatest modern two-sport athlete the world has ever seen. Jackson and Sanders had their athletic careers cut short due to the wear and tear on their bodies; Tebow has had to change sports completely to continue his journey. Murray has the chance to follow one sport with the ability to change whenever he so pleases.
Ryan Simpson is a senior studying statistics and minoring in sociology. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.