LeBron James trained for football during '11 lockout, has framed contract offer from Cowboys
Yahoo SportsMay 19, 2020, 3:22 PM EDT
Making The Last Dance | Interview With Jon Weinbach
Josiah Johnson talks with The Last Dance producer Jon Weinbach about his time on the project and his thoughts after the documentary’s success.
Did LeBron James really consider making a jump to the NFL?
In the wake of “The Last Dance” and look back at Michael Jordan’s mid-career baseball hiatus, James talked on Monday about the time where leaving basketball at least crossed his mind.
And it resulted in a contract offer from the Dallas Cowboys. So says Maverick Carter.
Speaking alongside Carter — his longtime business partner — and host Paul Rivera on “The Uninterrupted” podcast, James revealed on Monday (15:24 mark below) that he incorporated football drills into his workout routine during the 2011 NBA lockout.
“I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be, and myself and my trainer Mike Mancias, we really started to actually train to be a football player when it came to October, November,” James said. “We started to clock our times in the 40, we started to add a little bit more in our bench presses and things of that nature. We started to add more sled to our agenda with our workouts.
“Mike kept talking about, ‘It’d be great to go down to Irving, Texas.’ … ‘It’d be great to go down there to Dallas and suit up for the Cowboys.’ ”
The 2011 lockout lasted from July 1 to Dec. 8, shortly after the scheduled start to the season.
Could LeBron James succeed in the NFL?
James’ success as a prep basketball phenom needs no introduction. But he was also a standout football player at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Ohio, earning All-State honors as a wide receiver.
Urban Meyer revealed in 2012 that he offered James a scholarship to play at Notre Dame in 2000 when he was the wide receivers coach for the Fighting Irish.
A 6-foot-9, 250-plus-pound phenomenal athlete, James looks every bit the part of an All-Pro tight end in the mold of Antonio Gates or Rob Gronkowski. As long as he can catch. Which — he’s LeBron James. Of course he can catch.
LeBron James tosses a ball around before an NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants on Sept. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
James said he has football dreams, but they never come to fruition.
“I have dreams all the time about being able to play football,” James said. “It’s crazy because I actually never run on the field in my dreams.
“It always gets to the point where I’m either in the locker room or getting dressed or talking about or seeing the fans, and as soon as I’m about to run on the field, something else happens in my dream. It’s like something that it always happens like that.”
Carter: Jerry Jones was interested
Meanwhile, Carter revealed that the Cowboys had mutual interest in James.
“I know he got a contract from Jerry Jones that he framed and put in his office,” Carter said.
So, how close was this to becoming reality? Surely, not at all.
There seems little doubt that the Cowboys would have actually signed James to a deal. The publicity and circus alone screams Jerry Jones, much less the genuine upside of James as a football player.
But in 2011, James hadn’t yet won an NBA title. This wasn’t a situation like Jordan’s where his legacy was secure with three rings and three MVP trophies when he decided to take a shot at baseball.
Also, baseball doesn’t carry with it the immediate career-debilitating threat that football does.
So while it’s fun to think about, there’s an almost zero chance James would have actually made the jump to the NFL had the NBA lockout extended that season.