Kyler Murray enters NFL Draft: Deion Sanders and other former two-sport athletes offer insight into what he should do next
Murray was a first-round pick in baseball and could be selected in the first round in the NFL Draft
Murray, fresh off winning the Heisman trophy, will have to answer questions about his dedication to either sport. If he answers correctly in the eyes of NFL decision-makers, he could find himself in the unusual position of being a first-round pick in two sports within a year's time.
Predictably, Murray has inspired experts and analysts from across the sports globe to chime in with unsolicited advice about what he should or shouldn't do. It makes sense: Murray's decision is a fascinating dilemma that addresses almost every element of pro sports -- the finances, the lifestyles, the play on the field. Everyone knows what they would do if they were him.
Of course, some have been Murray -- or, at least, have been closer to being him than the average person. We decided it might be informative to the rest of us, then, to gather some insight provided by a few former two-sport athletes as it pertains to Murray. Let's get to it.
Sanders is the most famous recent example of an athlete playing professional baseball and football at the same time. He once played both sports in the same day, even. His advice for Murray is to stick to baseball based on the regret he holds about his own career.
As for Murray's potential to pull a Deion and play each sport? Sanders dismissed the notion, saying life won't allow him to because of the demands on the quarterback position.
If Sanders is the best-known baseball-football player, then Jordan is probably second. He too played for the Atlanta Braves and Falcons, and wound up carving out a 15-year career on the diamond to go with his three-year venture on the gridiron. Here's what Jordan told the Athletic's Ken Rosenthal about Murray:
Baseball is definitely a safer play. You can play for 15 to 20 years. It's harder to do now – baseball is going a lot younger. But he can play for a long time and make a lot of money in baseball. The instant gratification for him is in the NFL, of course. He'll make a lot of money up front being a quarterback and in three years, he's an elite quarterback, man, these guys are making $20 million a year. Either way, he's going to make a lot of money.
CBS Sports HQ's own, Kanell was drafted twice in baseball, and later played with an indy team. But he's best known for his work quarterbacking the New York Giants. Kanell addressed Murray's situation on CBS Sports HQ (click to watch the full clip).
"I think he should follow his heart," Kanell said. "The money's not that much different on these first few contracts." Kanell noted that Murray is likely to face criticism from NFL teams about his height and dedication to football, meaning he'll need to make a decision sooner than later.
Dozier was drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers, but went on to play football for Penn State. He was later a first-round pick as a running back, and he spent parts of five seasons in the NFL. Dozier eventually tried out with the New York Mets and made 25 appearances for the club in 1992. An injury would cause him to shift his focus to baseball on a full-time basis.
"There's no guarantee in baseball. So, to sign for $4.6 million is a great signing bonus, but at the same time in football, if you can sign for four, five, six, seven times that -- yeah, the chances are you play fewer years, but there's no guarantee in baseball you make it to the big leagues to make the big money," Dozier told CBS Sports.
"I would figure out how to do both, and then at some point you make a choice which is more lucrative business-wise, and/or what makes most sense in your heart. What do you want to do?"
Perhaps the most recent well-known example of a player grappling with which sport to pick, Henson chose to sign a lucrative deal with the New York Yankees to play third base while attending the University of Michigan and chasing a Heisman trophy of his own. He talked to ESPN's Jeff Passan about his decision and Murray's to come. Here's part of what Henson said:
"I tried to look inside," he said. "What are you most comfortable with? Where do you see yourself happiest 10 years down the road? What do you wake up most excited to do?"
Henson finished his career with nearly an equal amount of games played in the NFL (nine) as the majors (eight).
Another quarterback-slash-third baseman, Booty. "You just can't do that at the quarterback position," he said of trying to play both sports at once.
It's worth noting Booty played in 13 big-league games for the Florida Marlins in his early 20s. He played at LSU and was drafted in the sixth round by the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, but never attempted a regular-season pass.
Weeden faced a similar situation as Henson. He signed with the Yankees after being picked in the second round, and went on to pitch in parts of five minor-league seasons. Shoulder woes caused him to return to football, and he'd perform well enough as Oklahoma State's quarterback to be drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. This past season, he served in a backup capacity with the Houston Texans.
"It depends on how he's thinking about it," Weeden told CBS Sports this week, "but I think there are a lot of guys out there who would like to be in the position he's in and have to make that decision."
Now, there's something everyone can agree on.
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