CLEVELAND — Anyone who has followed the career of LeBron James, from growing up in Akron, to now starring for the Los Angeles Lakers, knows his affinity for the game of football.
For two seasons, LeBron was a star on the gridiron for St. Vincent St. Mary High School, earning All-State honors as a wide receiver. As a sophomore, James caught 42 passes for 820 yards and seven touchdowns. The next year, he had 61 receptions for 1,245 yards and 16 touchdowns during his junior season with the Irish. He didn't play football as a senior because of a wrist injury suffered during AAU basketball play the summer before.
As my current 3News colleague Ben Axelrod wrote in Bleacher Report back in 2016, LeBron's talents on the football field caught the eye of many college scouts, including a then-unknown wide receivers coach at Notre Dame named Urban Meyer. Of course, James chose basketball and has become one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA.
But did you know that LeBron was tempted a few years back to give football another try?
During Uninterrupted’s “After Party” show, James and business partner/friend Maverick Carter talked about a time in 2011 when the NBA was in a lockout and LBJ was thinking about making a move to the NFL.
“The thoughts came into my mind. … I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be. Myself and my trainer, [Mike] Mancias, we really started to actually train to be a football player when it came to October and November. We started to clock our times with the 40s, we started to add a little bit more in our bench presses and things of that nature. We started to add more sledding to our agenda with our workouts," LeBron recalled.
According to Carter, the Dallas Cowboys even offered him a shot at playing for "America's Team."
“I know he got a contract from (team owner) Jerry Jones,” Carter said on the show, “that he framed and put in his office.”
Ultimately, the NBA lockout came to an end that December. James would win the first of his three league championships the following June, leading the Miami Heat to victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals.
How good could LeBron have been in the NFL? Unfortunately, we'll never know. Although Clippers head coach Doc Rivers believes that LBJ could have been the greatest football player of all time.
LeBron says he still thinks about that senior season that never took place on the football field at St. Vincent St. Mary. “Never having the ability to finish my high school career of playing my senior year, I have dreams all the time about playing football,” James said. “It’s crazy, because I never actually run on the field in my dreams. It always gets to the point where I’m either in the locker room or getting dressed or talking about it or seeing the fans. As soon as I’m about to run on the field, something else happens in my dream.”