each and every time he touched the ball in Tecmo Bowl?
Twenty years ago it was more common to see the two-sport athlete. Nowadays they're all but extinct. Typically, athletes would play in the NFL and MLB due to the way the scheduling worked out. Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan are the first three that come to my mind.
Bo Jackson was drafted by the Yankees in 1982 but chose to attend Auburn university on a football scholarship. I guess at this point the Yankees hadn't fully flexed their financial muscles in persuading draft picks to leave the game of football (see Henson, Drew).
Jackson won the Heisman in 1985 and was later drafted in 1986 by the Royals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson was an absolute pleasure to watch in both sports by all accounts and was the epitome of a two-sport athlete. He had light tower power and played great defense, and on Sundays he could break out a 60-yard run from scrimmage. Jackson made the 1989 All Star team and finished 10th in the MVP voting. Jackson's career was cut short due to a hip injury he suffered in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991. After that injury he was never the same. It limited his production in baseball and caused him to retire from football.
In 1981 the Yankees drafted a two-sport star out of Stanford by the name of John Elway. Elway was later drafted by the Baltimore Colts with the #1 overall pick in 1983. Elway sat out the whole season fearing he would not be developed properly; eventually forcing the Colts' hand to trade him away to the Broncos in the 1984 draft. Elway played two years in the Yankees farm system using it as leverage to give Baltimore a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum.
Deion Sanders was also drafted by the Yankees in the 1988 draft and debuted for the Yanks in May of 1989. That year Sanders became the only player to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week. As an NFL cornerback that's one hell of a feat! Primetime's career high for home runs in a season is eight, and TDs in a season is three.
Other notable two-sport athletes in college that chose baseball are: Darin Erstad, P, Nebraska; Todd Helton, QB, Tennessee; Adam Dunn QB, Texas; Jeff Samarzdija, WR, Notre Dame; Derek Lee, SF, UNC; and Carl Crawford, who signed a letter of intent to play QB at Nebraska.
Not quite sure where to place him, but Michael Jordan belongs in this conversation in some way or another. Everyone knows of his short retirement from basketball. Whether it was forced by David Stern for gambling, nobody will ever know. Jordan signed a minor league contract in 1994 with the Chicago White Sox. Playing for the Birmingham Barons, Jordan posted an abysmal line of .202/.289/.266, with 3/46/51 and 30 SB. It should be noted that Jordan earned paychecks from the Bulls while playing baseball that season.
An honorable mention goes out to the one who started it all: Uber-athlete Jim Thorpe, playing eight seasons of pro football, six seasons of pro baseball, and winning two gold medals in the 1921 Olympics in track and field.
With the exponential increase in salaries over the past 15 years; and owners wanting to protect their investments, it seems like a wise decision that these athletes were forced to choose one sport over another. Baseball players have the luxury of guaranteed contracts, far less impact on their bodies, and an overall healthier lifestyle than a professional football player. Larger and larger signing bonuses have surely quelled any fears about making it through the minors.
Granted, the season is longer and there is a lot of time spent on the road but the benefits surely outweigh the costs. It's easy to see why so many natural athletes have chosen America's national pastime, and it leads me to believe we might not see another true two-sport athlete again.