Since the beginning of his National Basketball Association (NBA) career, fans and pundits alike have marveled at the athleticism of LeBron James. With a solid frame and cat-quick agility, the physically gifted James has dominated in his hardwood career on the way to two championships. But as a standout wide receiver in high school, the question has always been posed: Could James make the switch to the National Football League (NFL)? The question was addressed again in a Twitter question-and-answer session with James followers late in the week. According to several sources, James admitted online to a throng of followers, "I wanna play one NFL game before it's over,". But could James have as much success on the gridiron as he does on the hardwood? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: Without a doubt. LeBron is easily the most gifted athlete of his time in the mold of a Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson, two exceptional two-sport athletes. Although we don't have any proof of James being able to not only play, but succeed, in the NFL, it's hard to doubt how he wouldn't be successful when you consider his endurance, agility and size. With a little extra time inside an NFL weight room, I don't see why LeBron couldn't dominate at the tight end or wide receiver position. Or could you imagine James playing center-fielder as a 6-foot-8-inch free safety? The possibilities would be scary.
Green: I agree, I think James could pull off a stellar NFL career, but I don’t think he would be playing receiver. When I see LeBron at 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, all muscle, I think of the defensive end position. There’s been some freak athletes that have played DE in the NFL, including former Pro Bowlers like Julius Peppers at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds or Jason Taylor at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds. That’s the mode that LeBron fits. He’d be so fast and powerful rushing off the edge that opposing coaches would have nightmares trying to game-plan on stopping him from ripping their quarterbacks apart.
Riley: I don’t know, I’d much rather see LeBron play offense. Besides, having him play up on the line of scrimmage, or in the trenches, as they say, could result in injuries. If you put him at one of those speed positions, like wide receiver, where he's probably already bigger and more solid than many of the guys trying to cover him, the chance of injury decreases. Let LeBron play in space on a football field and I'm sure the results would be outstanding, though it would probably take him one offseason to get adjusted to the game before he started to make an impact. His high school days are a long way away but the football instincts and skills he developed over that time would still serve him well. Not only would he make the transition but he would be dominant at it.
Green: One thing that I wouldn’t worry about with LeBron is injuries. I’ve seen this dude take some of the nastiest falls and just hop up off the court like its nothing. We’ve all seen LeBron suffer ankle twists and knee bumps that would usually have a player sidelined for a season. Instead, he’s up off the floor and dunking on somebody within seconds. The dude doesn’t seem to ever get injured, and if he does he never shows it. That kind of toughness is built for interior line play. And I wouldn’t worry about a lack of stardom coming from playing defense. The defensive-end/outside linebacker position is probably one of the sexiest positions in football because it produces what everyone likes to see – sacks. America loves touchdowns, but we also love to see quarterbacks get destroyed. And LeBron James would be a complete monster, delivering hit after hit for our entertainment.