It’s almost officially summer. That means that the football season is only a few months away. Yeah, there’s still basketball and hockey playoffs, baseball, tennis, and the World Cup, but lets be honest, something is missing. Therefore, I have a proposition. Why not let non-NFL athletes compete in the world’s greatest sport. In fact, why not just transform them into football players all together. Instead of extended draft coverage and listening to long winded, passive-aggressive, arguments between Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr., the NFL offseason could be devoted to following the evolution of various athletes into football stars!
I now present, the NFLOA, the National Football League of Other Athletes. But who would participate? Here is the list of the best players, taken from any sport other than football, for each NFL position. The athletes selected are without a doubt the best choices for each position. Arguing this would be an act of futility.
QB: ROGER FEDERER.
Why select Roger Federer to play the most important position in football, and possibly, all of sports? (Yeah, I know, “It’s the center!” or “It’s the left tackle!” That may be true, but let’s be honest here; everyone pays the big bucks to see the quarterbacks.) Well, for one, I think Federer needs to be considered one of, if not the, greatest current athlete in professional sports. Therefore, he is a perfect fit for quarterback. He can handle the pressure. Aside from that, The Maestro has quick feet, has shown an incredible ability to remain healthy, and can think on the fly. Plus, his serving motion will serve as a good starting point for a throwing motion. At 6-1, 187, think Drew Brees with a kind of weird, very subtle accent.
RB: DERON WILLIAMS and CARLOS TEVEZ.
Williams at running back ranks among the most natural fits. He’d be a little tall at 6-3, but he has enough weight (207 lbs) to complement his height. As a point guard, he has demonstrated his agility and power when driving to the hoop. Williams would be a taller version of Adrian Peterson bred with Ray Rice (not something I’d really like to watch happen). As for Tevez, he would serve as a more elusive back, but like Williams, would still be able to take a few hits. Given his smaller height of 5-7, Tevez would play a role similar to that of Leon Washington with the Jets.
WR: LEBRON JAMES, USAIN BOLT, and JUAN PIERRE.
The first two are obvious and don’t need much explaining. They are arguably the two most physically gifted individuals on the planet. To compensate for my copout, I needed to get a little more create for the NFLOA slot receiver. Outfielder, Juan Pierre, was a perfect fit. He ranks among the top in stolen bases each year and has an Ichiro-esque swing involving a quick, compact motion, often employing bunts to reach first base. In order to play baseball like that, Pierre needs good hands and acceleration abilities that will make him a perfect slot receiver.
TE: JOSH SMITH and ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC
At 6-9, 240 lbs, Josh Smith would be a very large tight end, but he is surprisingly quick for his size. He also has a tremendous leaping ability, as seen in his dunk contest appearances. Added bonus about Smith: he cannot attempt ill-advised three pointers in football. Soccer forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, stands at six foot four, but has a lightweight of 185 lbs. However, the fitness staff of the NFLOA is known for their miracle work. He could easily put on an additional 40 pounds and poof, you have Dallas Clark.
O-Line: RT-GLEN DAVIS (6-9, 289), RG-CARLOS BOOZER (6-9, 266), C-NIKLAS BACKSTROM (6-2, 196), LG-MAGNUS SAMUELSSON (6-8, 350), LT-ADAM DUNN (6-6, 287)
A very diverse group, the offensive line is composed of 2 basketball power forwards, a hockey goalie, a World’s Strongest Man Champion, and a MLB slugger. Davis and Boozer are very tall, but both have a fair amount of weight to them already, especially Big Baby who looks like he’s about to have one. Center Niklas Backstrom is certainly undersized, especially for this mammoth line, but he is also going to attend the Zlatan Ibrahimovic school of eating. I needed someone who I knew could respond quickly and lead the line. A hockey goalie was a perfect choice. Samuelsson is the most NFLOA ready of the five athletes, as he has near perfect height and weight. Eh, what the hell, he could eat a few more T-bone steaks too. Finally, Adam Dunn protects Federer’s blind side. This is a risk, given his “homerun or strikeout” philosophy for baseball. Hopefully he doesn’t swing and miss too many times at incoming defensive ends.
Speaking of defensive ends…
DE: RON ARTEST and MILAN LUCIC
Artest is the kind of crazed animal you need coming off the edge. He has long arms and already clubs guys in the face as much as Julius Peppers does. Throw some Gatorade in his face and he can go really crazy (this dangerous task will be given to the teams water boy, 13-year-old and future-USC QB, David Sills). Lucic, the Boston Bruins Left Winger, is big (6-4, 220) and hits almost as many guys per game as Artest. The two will come to be known as Ravenous Ron and Lunatic Lucic.
DT: ZACH RANDOLPH and ZDENO CHARA
Randolph, the Grizzlies power forward, and Chara, the Boston Bruin defenseman, both stand at 6-9 and weigh an identical 260 lbs. Randolph, a bigger-but-less-crazy version of Albert Haynesworth, will clog up the middle of the field along with Chara, the second Boston Bruin represented on the defensive line. They are recognized by their infamous nickname of Z squared. Randolph, when asked how he felt about the sport change said, “At least I’m out of Memphis.”
This brings up an interesting question. Where exactly is the NFLOA based?
The home for the NFLOA squad is the proposed stadium to be built in Los Angeles. For those of you not familiar with the situation, Edward P. Roski, a partial owner of both the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Kings, recently announced plans to build a football stadium in L.A., with the hope that an NFL team will move to the large city, where there is currently no representative football organization.
Side note: I called my dad last night to discuss the tragedy of Joyce and Galarraga. Somehow we got onto the topic of the “Free Agent Summit.” I find it totally hilarious that more and more free agents are dying for an invitation to the coolest party of the year.
Chris Bosh: “I want to come!”
Popular Kids: “Sure, why not, you’re a baller, but you do kind of look like a Raptor. Now that we think about, you look a lot like that chic from Baylor, Brittney Griner, too.”
Amare Stoudemire: “Can I come toooo?”
Popular Kids + Bosh: “Sure, you’re aight, but bring some girls, please.”
Dirk Nowitzki: “Vhat aboot me?”
Popular Kids + Bosh + Stoudemire + Girls: “Yeah, but you need to do something about your hair first.”
Carlos Boozer: “Hey, why didn’t I get an invite?”
Popular Kids + Bosh + Stoudemire + Girls + Nowitzki: “Cause we don’t want to see you, loser!”
Anyways, this rich dude in Los Angeles should consider buying a NBA team, moving them to the new stadium, converting that NFL stadium into an NBA one, dropping everyone on the basketball team, and picking from 3 popular kids to create the best NBA team for the next decade.
Back to the NFLOA roster…
MLB: DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN and JOSH HAMILTON
Perhaps the only better fit in the NFLOA than Deron Williams at running back is Dustin Byfuglien at middle linebacker. He has perfect size, already, standing 6-4 and weighing 246 lbs. On top of that Byfuglien is fast enough to play right wing in hockey. As if the Byfuglien situation could not get any better, he has the most hits of any player in this year’s NHL playoffs. Byfuglien is Lawrence Taylor playing in the middle. Hamilton may come as a less obvious pick, but his 6-4, 230 frame is close to ideal for the middle linebacker position. Like his partner, Hamilton is surprisingly quick for his size. The only down side, he has a history of being injury prone.
OLB: JASON HEYWARD and CARMELO ANTHONY
Heyward, the youngest player on the team, is a front-runner for the NFLOA Rookie of the Year award. He stands at 6-4, a terrific height for the outside linebacker position. Reminds me of a LaMarr Woodley/Calvin Pace type of pass rusher. Anthony will work as a tremendous mentor for Heyward. Much like him, Melo entered the league with very high expectations. After years of being compared to LeBron, Melo is able to end the discussion by playing on the other side of the ball.
S: MIKE GREEN and DIDIER DROGBA
Mike Green, one of the most aggressive defensemen in the NHL, will use that aggression at safety. He is also among the best hitters in the league, another ability that correlates to his new position. If he were to put on twenty pounds, he’d have a nearly identical body type to future hall of fame safety, John Lynch. Drogba, the center forward for Chelsea, has the size, speed, and vertical jumping ability to be a hard-hitting safety. Like Green, putting on an additional twenty-ish pounds would give Drogba a similar body type to another good, past NFL safety; Sean Taylor. Having played professionally since 1998, Drogba is the captain of the highly feared defensive unit. Both Green and Drogba are among the best fits for their positions.
CB: RAFAEL NADAL, RAJON RONDO, and DERRICK ROSE
Nadal would be a terrific corner, especially when used in a zone defense. He has experience covering vast amounts of space when playing tennis and is a far more physically gifted individual then people give him credit for being. Who would you rather have on your basketball team, Rondo or Rose? While you’d probably get around a 50-50 split on that question, it is irrelevant now. The two point guards will play side-by-side, employing aggressive bump-and-run man coverage. Both players are terrific in the air and seem to know where their teammates are located at all times. They won’t even need to look at the guys they’re guarding.
Kicker and Punter: Doesn’t really matter. No matter who plays the position they’d all be inconsistent, streaky (in a bad way), and exist only to let the fans down.
So there you have it. Here is the list of how many NFLOA participants each sport contributed.
NBA: 10 players
NHL: 5 players
MLB: 4 players
Soccer: 3 players
Tennis: 2 players
Track and Field: 1 player
World’s Strongest Man: 1 player
It’d be interesting to see these guys actually on the field together.