Should Russell Wilson become a Two Sport Athlete?

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Russell Wilson brought pride and joy to the city of Seattle on Sunday, February 2nd, when he helped the Seahawks take down Peyton Manning and the highly favored Denver Broncos, 43-8. Wilson threw for two touchdowns and over 200 yards in order to lead his team to victory.

So what’s next for the young star?

Obviously he’s going to celebrate, go to Disney World, perhaps cash in on his success with endorsements, maybe sign an extension with the Seahawks and then report to Spring Training with the Texas Rangers.

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Let me repeat that again, a little slower. He’s going…to report…to Spring Training…with the Texas Rangers…Baseball Team.

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Take a second to let that sink in, or clean the spit off your monitors.

If you forgot what happened this past December, Russell Wilson, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2010 as a second baseman, spent a couple seasons in the minors while playing college football, before being drafted by the Seahawks in 2012. He then decided to quit baseball so he could focus on football full time. However,  he forgot to fill out his retirement papers, and the Rangers, with a minor league pick in the Rule 5 draft, decided to pluck him out of the Rockies’ system.

The Rangers have plans to use him more as a motivational speaker for their minor leaguers, but there have been some people who say that Wilson might want to actually play a few games and take some hacks in the cage.

A professional two sport athlete is rare these days, as the physical toll of one sport is often too much for a player the be able to add the rigors of another. In fact, the last two sport athlete who played two sports professionally, not including the minor leagues for baseball in the same season was Deion Sanders, who played for the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Reds in 1997. In that season, Sanders had 30 tackles and 2 interceptions in football, while in baseball, he hit .273 with 5 home runs and 23 RBI, all while finishing second in stolen bases.

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Of course, the idea of the professional two sport athlete isn’t completely dead. On January 24th at Florida State Baseball’s media event, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and pitcher/outfielder Jameis Winston said that he wanted to become the next two sport star.

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In the case of Sanders and Winston, the positions they played on the diamond allowed them the luxury to play both baseball and football. Sanders was primarily an outfielder and Winston is primarily a pitcher, in fact, he’s a closer for the Seminoles. Wilson is a completely different case. As a second baseman, he’s going to put himself more in the line of fire, dealing not only with errant grounders and barreling runners, but also he’ll be taking those same risks at the plate. A quarterback is the most valuable asset to a team, and having him play a position like second base is going to be a nightmare for that team.

However, Wilson is smart, scrappy and agile. He’s had to deal with running away from linemen who are twice his size, so a baseball player who may be bigger than him is probably not the worst thing he’s had to deal with.

If Wilson wants to make this more than just a $10,000 motivational speaker/photo op event, it’s up to him and the Seahawks. Wilson is a natural athlete who while raw on the diamond as a hitter, is an excellent fielder. He’s only 25, which while past the prime prospect age, gives him the chance to be a solid late contributor. It will be interesting to see how he decides to go forward with this opportunity, assuming he is allowed to and does.

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