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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Allen Iverson Could Have Been the Next Bo Jackson if Not for Some Vulgar Words From John Thompson

In a career spanning over 17 years, Allen Iverson practically mastered the art of being an NBA superstar. Despite his incredible talent and leadership on-court, he was infamous for making mistakes off it – with one in particular costing him millions.

You probably picture Allen Iverson crossing defenders on the basketball floor when you hear his name. While AI had a lot of success in the Association, he wasn’t only a basketball player. Growing up, the guard was an outstanding football player who aspired to play collegiate football.

However, John Thompson at Georgetown had a different plan. He made it clear to Iverson that football was off limits.

While this is logical, it also begs the issue of whether Allen Iverson, like Bo Jackson, might have been a true two-sport threat.

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Allen Iverson spent his high school years on the football field and on the basketball court. The guard never forgot about football until his on-court ability led him to Georgetown.

On The Dan Patrick Show, AI said, “I would have absolutely attempted to do both.” “You know, simply from my passion for basketball, which I’ve had since Michael Jordan gave me the vision,” he says. I would have attempted to play both. I put in a lot of work because when I first got to Georgetown, I asked Coach Thompson if I could play football. Because we had to go to the gym from class every day, and I had to ask the football field every time.”

Allowing AI to play football was evidently a step too far for Thompson, who was always eager to go to bat for his players.

“I used to feel emotional whenever I drove by a football field.” “My eyes would well up with tears,” the guard added. “And one day, I worked up the confidence to ask [Thompson] if I might play?” And I don’t believe I could express what he said because of the terminology.”

Could AI, like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, have been a serious two-sport threat?

Allen Iverson had a strong enthusiasm for football, as seen by his statements. Shannon Sharpe feels he would have been much better on the gridiron than he ever was on the court, according to a prior chat. That’s a bold remark considering his NBA resume.

While there is precedence for playing two professional sports at the same time, such instances are uncommon. Both Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson alternated between football and baseball. That’s not the same as attempting to strike a balance between football and basketball.

On the basketball side of things, one might argue that the NBA is more physically demanding than baseball. While an MLB season is undoubtedly demanding, Iverson took a beating almost every time he drove to the hole. That, paired with the physical demands of professional football, would constitute a significant physical strain.

Then, on the logistical front, AI’s choice of places is unlikely to aid his cause. Both the quarterback and the point guard must be aware of the team’s dynamics; you must read your teammates’ moves rather than passing the ball behind them. It’s logical to believe that coaches in both sports would ban Iverson from leaving them, putting that internal agreement in jeopardy.

Finally, there’s the matter of scale. While Iverson’s size — he stands 6-foot-0 and weighs 165 pounds — is similar to that of Jackson and Sanders (6-foot-1, 220 pounds and 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, respectively — he is still fairly short for a quarterback. While a skilled player might likely overcome a height disadvantage, it would very surely be another strike against him. Imagine attempting to persuade your head coach that your starting quarterback is just six feet tall and will be playing both football and pro basketball. Signing off on such arrangement now, much alone in the 1990s, would need a very special sort of personality.

Those variables may seem to be damning, but there are a few counterpoints.

To begin with, Iverson has stated that he never truly lifted weights, despite the fact that he would have needed to in order to play football. While this wouldn’t have made him much taller, it would have helped him grow out his physique and given him a little more protection from accidents.

Second, neither Jackson nor Sanders had a 20-year career that included both sports. Things become a little more rational if we hold Iverson to that standard. It’s simpler to concentrate on basketball after a few football seasons than it is to manage both for more than a decade.

There’s no way to tell what Allen Iverson would have done if he attempted to play basketball and football at the same time at this point. While there’s no denying his innate skill, building a career in one professional sport, much alone two, is difficult enough.

The future of Iverson’s football career will have to remain a mystery. For that, you may thank (or blame) John Thompson.

Sports-Reference provided the heights and weights.

Mike McDaniel, the new Dolphins coach, used Allen Iverson to mentor his receivers.

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