Skip to content

LeBron James was offered contract to play in the NFL

LeBron James (Photo credit: Splash News)

No one is calling LeBron James the second coming of two-sport king Bo Jackson. But King James gave very real consideration to playing in the National Football League about a decade ago.

The media voted James to the All-State wide receiver team when he played for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio in the 1990s. He may have attended Ohio State University or other national powerhouses if he had chosen to play intercollegiate athletics. Even former Notre Dame’s wide receiver coach Urban Meyer admitted to ESPN that he offered James a football scholarship to play for the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind.

The subject of James possibly changing sports in mid-career was resurrected because his idol, Michael Jordan, actually did play professional baseball in the mid-1990s. MJ’s exploits in Double-A ball were outlined in the record-breaking ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.”

During the strike-shortened NBA season of 2011, James and his friend and business partner Maverick Carter mulled over the prospect of playing for his favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys.

“I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be, and myself and my trainer … we really started to actually train to be a football player,” James revealed to Uninterrupted. “We started to clock our time in the 40. We started to add a little bit more to our bench presses and things of that nature.”

According to a poll, 71 percent of the respondents believe that James would have excelled had he decided to make the leap (no pun intended) to the NFL. Interestingly enough, about the same percentage of fans also believe that Michael Jordan was superior to James in every NBA category, according to an ESPN poll. However, there aren’t many NBA experts who believe that Jordan was a better passer, rebounder and triple-double threat than James.

The big difference between Jordan and James is that MJ had already won three titles by the time he retired (the first time) and picked up a bat. James was still ringless in 2011 and had just endured a humiliating defeat in the NBA championship to the Dallas Mavericks.

Therefore, despite the fact that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had offered King James an NFL contract — James still has that contract framed in his office to this day — there was never a real threat for James to leave the NBA. He was ravenous for a title. James went on to get two rings with the Miami Heat and another with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers (his birthplace of Akron is 20 minutes down the street).