LeBron James’ journey to the Los Angeles Lakers nearly did not happen as the NBA legend pondered a career change to the NFL in 2011. James revealed to The Athletic’s Christopher Kamrani and Bill Oram that he had NFL tryout offers from the Cowboys and Seahawks. James’ Heat team had just lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals and the league was headed for a lockout.
How serious was James about swapping his signature Nike high tops for cleats and a helmet? James, who played high school football, began changing his training methods to workouts geared more towards football and started running routes again. It should come as no surprise that the ever-confident James had no doubt he would make the roster of the Cowboys or Seahawks if he accepted the try-out invitation.
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“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 .”
LeBron Was Recruited by Urban Meyer
Even if James did take the NFL plunge, it is hard to believe he would not have ultimately made it back to the hardwood. Yet, his path to re-signing with the Cavaliers and later joining the Lakers may not have happened. James’ high school football career is the stuff of legends as he was recruited by a number of top universities including Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, Florida State and Michigan to name a few programs.
“Pretty much everybody,” James explained. “Urban Meyer recruited me. I think at the time he was the wide receiver coach at Notre Dame. So yeah, I was getting recruited by all the big-time schools.”
During an interview with The Athletic, James’ childhood friend Romeo Travis described him as a “unicorn” on the football field. The Lakers star played wide receiver in high school and likely would have tried out at this position if he took the NFL up on their offers.
“Just this rare, unicorn-type stuff,” Travis noted.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst Compared LeBron’s Game to Gronk
During a 2020 UNINTERRUPTED interview, James’ close friend and business partner Maverick Carter discussed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recruiting the NBA star. James is a self-professed Cowboys fan and even launched a Nike colorway as a nod to his Dallas fandom.
“I know he got a contract from Jerry Jones that he framed and put in his office,” Carter said.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst covered James in high school and has an interesting NFL comparison: Rob Gronkowski. During a 2019 SB Nation interview, Windhorst noted James could have been utilized like Gronkowski if he would have played college football at Ohio State.
“If he had gone to Ohio State, they would have made him play tight end because he’s built like a tight end. And they would have wanted him to block, and he probably would have turned into Rob Gronkowski,” Windhorst explained.
Fortunately for Lakers fans, James never took Jones or Carroll up on their NFL offers. Something tells us James would have had no problem having success on the football field.