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The Five Greatest Two-Sport Athletes

Sailun Tires

The achievements of Kyler Murray are truly astonishing. In 2018, he was a first-round selection of the Oakland Athletics in the Major League Baseball Draft. He signed a $4.66 million contract and was slated to report to spring training in 2019.

In the meantime, Murray – who played both baseball and football for the Oklahoma Sooners – won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in U.S. college football. The Arizona Cardinals made Murray the first overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. He opted to exercise the out clause in his baseball contract with the A’s. Murray signed a fully guaranteed four-year, $35.2 million rookie contract in Arizona.

To be an elite player in one professional sport is a massive achievement. Approximately one percent of all children who play youth sports will make it to the pros. To be a world-class performer in two big-league sports such as Murray accomplished, well let’s just say that’s not something you’d be likely to go to an online betting site like and place a wager on such an outcome.

Even though he put his baseball career on the shelf, Murray – the 2019 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year – still remains of the belief that had he stuck with it, he could’ve played in both the NFL and MLB.

I think I could,” Murray told the Arizona Republic. “Athletically, I think, yeah, I could do it. I’ve been playing both my whole life. I would love to add to that resume.”

If he did opt to pursue both sports simultaneously, Murray might add himself to the list of the greatest two-sport athletes of all time.

Bo Jackson (NFL, MLB)

“Bo Jackson” by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY 3.0

As those memorable Nike ads proclaimed, Bo knew football. Bo knew baseball.

Jackson was the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn. He is the only athlete ever selected to play in the NFL Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star Game. He was a Pro Bowl running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and an all-star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals.

Deion Sanders (NFL, MLB)

They called him – or maybe he called himself – Prime Time. No matter. Sanders was a one of a kind athlete. Sanders liked to say that football was his wife and baseball was his mistress. He played both for the Florida State Seminoles and also ran track. He was a two-time consensus All-American cornerback.

Sanders won Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys and played for the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series. He’s the only player to appear in both of these championship events.

Ollie Matson (NFL, Olympics)

During his senior season with the 1951 San Francisco Dons, Matson led the NCAA in rushing TDs and yards gained on the ground. He played in the NFL from 1952-66 and was a seven time All-Pro. The Los Angeles Rams traded nine players to acquire the future Hall of Famer.

Prior to turning pro, Matson ran track for the USA at the 1952 Helsinki Summer Olympics. He won a silver medal in the 4×400-metre relay and a bronze in the 400 metres.

Vsevold Bobrov (Hockey, Soccer)

“Vsevold Bobrov” by Wikimedia is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Perhaps best known as coach of the Soviet team during the 1972 Summit Series against Canada, Bobrov was an outstanding multi-sport athlete during the 1950s. 

As a soccer player, Bobrov played for CSKA Moscow, VVS Moscow, and Spartak Moscow, and represented the Soviet Union internationally at the 1952 Summer Olympics. He captained the national team.

At the hockey rink, Bobrov was a top scorer in the Soviet League, skating with CSKA Moscow and VVS Moscow, as well as the national team. He was part of the first Soviet team to win a world championship in 1954 and earned a gold medal at the 1956 Winter Olympics, netting a tournament-leading nine goals. Bobrov is among the rare athletes to compete in both a Summer and Winter Olympiad.

Jesse Lumsden (CFL, Olympics)

A running back, Lumsden played in the CFL from 2005-10 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders. He was named a CFL East All-Star with the Ti-Cats in 2007.

In 2010, Lumsden joined the Canadian bobsled team. He competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games. At the 2012 world championship in Lake Placid, N.Y., serving as brakeman for Lyndon Rush, Lumsden won a gold medal in the two-man bobsled.


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