It’s time to talk about it again.
When the NBA was months into its lockout in 2011, NBA superstar LeBron James received offers to try out for NFL clubs. His favorite team as a kid, the Dallas Cowboys, offered him a shot, and the Seattle Seahawks sent him a jersey with his name on it in hopes of garnering an appearance by the King.
Football isn’t foreign to James. He played wide receiver in high school, earning first-team All-State honors during his sophomore season. He was even recruited by FBS schools.
And if James stuck with football, Skip Bayless believes he could have made it to the NFL, using his 6-foot-9 frame as an advantage in one specific area.
“I still do believe — even more than [Shannon Sharpe] does — that LeBron could have been at least as good as a pass-catching, not a blocking, but pass-catching tight end as Jimmy Graham,” Bayless said on his podcast, “The Skip Bayless Show.” “Talk about a red-zone target, LeBron James at 6-foot-9, 270 [pounds]. In his prime, LeBron could flat out fly. … He also can sky. Just as a red-zone target, if he could avoid extreme physicality, I think LeBron would’ve been lethal.”
However, outside of the obvious fit as a pass-catcher, Bayless said he believes James would’ve fared even better at a more unconventional position.
“LeBron James, if he had so chosen, could have been a Hall of Fame left tackle. Obviously, it’s not a glamour position, but we’re talking 6-foot-9 and great feet. He would have to put on, I don’t know, 20 to 30 pounds? No edge rusher could have ever gotten around him. I think at 6-foot-9 — he loves the weight room — I don’t think he could’ve gotten bull-rushed by too many edge rushers. I just think he would be a wall unto himself at left tackle. He would’ve been a Hall of Famer.”
In 2021, James admitted to The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Christopher Kamrani, when asked about playing football, “I always think about it.” He’s pretty confident in how well he would’ve done, too.
“I would have made the team,” James told The Athletic. “I would have tried out, but I would have made the team. One thing about it, I don’t mind working for something, so if I would have had to try out for the Cowboys or the Seahawks, or if I’d have stayed home and went back home to Cleveland, I’d have tried (out), but I would have made the team. I just know what I’m capable of doing on the football field. Especially at that age.”
James, who was 26 during the 2011 NBA lockout, told Peyton and Eli Manning during a “Manningcast” in 2021 that he “definitely thought about” the offers he received from the Cowboys and Seahawks. He even kept the jerseys both teams gave him.
Now, at 37, James presumably won’t be chasing an old football dream, even if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Lakers.
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