Johnny Football may need to change his name to Johnny Baseball.
As reported by The Inquisitr, Johnny Manziel made draft news once again over the weekend as the San Diego Padres went out on a limb and selected the Texas A&M star in the 28th round. And while Manziel hasn’t picked up a bat or ball since high school, Johnny is now part of an exclusive list of athletes with the potential for two-sport stardom.
Johnny Manziel joins John Elway, Russell Wilson and many other great athletes who flirted with both the gridiron and the baseball diamond in the past.
According to USA Today, Elway may have been the closest to legitimately going pro. He was “drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 18th round in 1979. He chose to go to Stanford, where he continued to play baseball and football.”
The Yankees came calling in 1981 and Elway used them as leverage when he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1983. Elway was traded shortly thereafter to the Denver Broncos, and the rest, as they say, is football history.
Russell Wilson, a small framed quarterback that Johnny Manziel is often compared with, did much more than simply toy with the idea of playing professional baseball. Wilson was a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2010 and actually played in the Rockies’ system as a second baseman. He gave up his spot on the roster in pursuit of his dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, when the eventual Super Bowl champion quarterback was selected in the 3rd round by the Seattle Seahawks back in 2012.
While most athletes on this list ended up choosing one sport or the other, there are famous cases of athletes actually attempting to play both. Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson are the two most notable examples as both players excelled in baseball and football. Sanders played for the Cincinnati Reds at the same time he suited up for the Dallas Cowboys in the mid 90’s. And Bo Jackson famously became the poster child for the dual sports phenomenon when he played for both the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs earlier that decade.
And while the majority of this list is comprised of NFL players making the jump into MLB, it is not exclusive to simply football players alone. In 1994, Michael Jordan famously pursued his dream of playing Major League Baseball with the Chicago White Sox after retiring from the NBA the year before. His journey ended rather abruptly after two seasons with little impact on the box score, and Jordan eventually returned to the Chicago Bulls where he went on to win three more NBA titles.
— Mike Dee (@PadresMikeDee) June 7, 2014
So, will Johnny Manziel ever realistically suit up in a San Diego Padres uniform? The Padres general manager may not know for sure, tweeting to his followers that he was simply drafting the “best athlete on the board” when he made his selection.
In any event, the San Diego Padres have afforded Johnny Manziel with at least one more advantage: the opportunity to peddle more merchandise to his fans as Johnny Baseball.