It takes a lot of skill and dedicated work ethic to succeed at one sport, let alone two. Pro athletes have to be physically tough and mentally disciplined in order to make a career of playing children’s games. However, every so often you get guys like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, freaks who have the ability to excel at multiple sports with what seems like relative ease. These players are fun to watch and often get caught up juggling the responsibilities of both sports. You know who doesn’t have to worry about that? Guys who can’t handle more than one sport.
Some athletes were just made to play one sport. It’s what they’re best at. There’s no shame in it, it takes a great deal of talent just to make it pro in one sport. The vast majority of us couldn't make it pro even if we dedicated our entire lives to the endeavor. There are countless cases of players who just don’t have the ability to compete professionally and it’s these guys that burn out – no matter what sport they play. This list will be made of athletes who’ve found success solely in their primary sport and athletes who couldn’t find a rhythm no matter what they played.
These are the top 10 worst multi-sport athletes of all time.
10 Chad Johnson - Football & Soccer
Despite his constant name changes and ridiculous antics both on and off the field, Chad Johnson is a football player first and foremost. The six-time Pro Bowl receiver had a successful run with the Cincinnati Bengals before his play started to decline. Johnson’s last year in the NFL was with the New England Patriots in 2011, where he made just three starts and put up pedestrian numbers despite having Tom Brady throwing him the ball - the two never developed any chemistry. After being cut by the Dolphins in training camp a year later and spending 2013 out of football, Johnson is currently a member of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.
During the 2011 NFL lockout Johnson tried his hand at soccer, a sport which he claims to be a devoted fan of. In March of that year he began a four-day trial with Sporting Kansas City of the MLS. A couple days later Johnson played in a reserve game with the team but failed to make any sort of impact and wasn’t offered a contract. The real sad part isn’t that the team didn’t offer him a contract, it’s what they did offer him; a chance to train with the reserves to stay in shape.
9 Manny Ramirez – Baseball & Cricket
The twelve-time All-Star and World Series MVP certainly made a name for himself both on and off the field during his eighteen-year career in the MLB. Ramirez won two World Series championships during his time with the Boston Red Sox. A few years after he signed with the team, both he and teammate David Ortiz were accused of being among the group of 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. While Ramirez’s career highlights and accomplishments are impressive, he is known for his unusual behaviour off the field. One of those instances saw him taking up a completely different sport while he was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. While attending a promotional event, Ramirez had a go at cricket, and while he had some success with hitting the ball, he spent the majority of his time swinging away like a madman failing to find any rhythm. The good news for Ramirez is that it was only a one time thing; he went back to his true calling shortly after.
8 Steve Filipowicz – Football & Baseball
One of the only great things you could say about Steve Filipowicz is that he’s the only guy besides Jim Thorpe to have played for the New York Giants of both baseball and football. Other than that his career was short-lived and fairly unproductive in both sports. Despite his underwhelming size, the Giants chose him sixth overall in 1943. However, Filipowicz would play two years of baseball before his football debut. His two seasons with baseball's New York Giants were mediocre and saw him hit two home runs with a batting average of .233. His career with the football Giants was no better. He averaged less than three yards a carry as a rookie but started to show promise on the defensive side of the ball in his sophomore season, only to retire when he was offered a coaching job which he maintained for a year before returning to baseball. He lasted one more year with the Cincinnati Reds in 1948 and ended his career playing two more years in the International League and Texas League.
7 Tracy McGrady – Basketball & Baseball
This former ninth overall pick was a great swingman in the NBA for many years. Starting off with the Raptors, McGrady played for seven different NBA franchises in almost seventeen seasons as a pro. By the time he retired in 2013 McGrady was considered to be one of the greats, a seven-time NBA All-Star with over 18,000 points and 4,000 career rebounds under his belt. Shortly after retirement McGrady was pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Independent Atlantic League. However, his pitching skills weren’t exactly up to par with the talent found in the rest of the league and he retired from the sport after he nabbed his first and only career strikeout in the Atlantic League All-Star Game later that year.
6 Tie Domi – Hockey & Football
The man who holds the Maple Leafs record for career penalty minutes and sits at third overall for most penalty minutes in NHL history was known as a bruising enforcer during his time in the NHL. Domi didn’t contribute much as a point scorer, but had a multitude of violent incidents on the ice which contributed to his status as a feared enforcer. One of the more famous of these was him sucker punching New York Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson which rendered him unconscious and got Domi an eight game suspension. During the two seasons following that incident Domi appeared as a kicker for the Toronto Argonauts. Sporting his familiar number 28, Domi struggled to say the least. One of his field goal attempts went right into the arms of a Hamilton Tiger Cat and was run back all the way for a touchdown.
5 Norm Bass – Football & Baseball
After a disappointing run as a pitcher for the Kansas City Athletics, Norman Bass decided to take his talents to the NFL where he didn’t fare any better. In thirty-four starts for Kansas City, Bass finished with a 13-17 record and a 5.32 career ERA. Bass played his last year in the MLB in 1963 then moved on to the NFL as a safety for the AFL’s Denver Broncos, appearing in only one game, and was cut shortly after the end of the season, ending his NFL career as well.
4 Jose Canseco – Baseball & MMA
After playing sixteen years in the MLB Jose Canseco finished his career with over 450 home runs and a batting average of .266 with eight different teams. His longest tenure came with the Oakland Athletics, the team he won his first World Series with. While his career in Oakland lasted several years he was never on one team more than a few seasons and was a journeyman throughout his time in the MLB. Eight years after he’d retired from baseball Canseco decided to take up mixed martial arts. His first – and only – career opponent was 7 foot 2 Japanese fighter Hong Man Choi who wasted little time in smashing Canseco to the ground like a rag doll. Either he was incredibly confident in his abilities, or petrified by fear.
3 Drew Henson – Football & Baseball
Drew Henson might be best known as Tom Brady’s understudy at the University of Michigan, and maybe that’s a good thing considering his less than successful pro career. Starting with baseball Henson made his debut for the New York Yankees in 2002 and ended his brief MLB career with an awful .111 batting average. Initially drafted by the Houston Texans, Henson was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 2004. He started his first game for the team on Thanksgiving Day of that same year but was so inconsistent with his throws that he was benched in favour of veteran Vinny Testaverde who lead the team to a 21-7 win. After a bad training camp the following year Henson spent some time in NFL Europe and bounced on and off the Vikings and Lions rosters before retiring from football as well.
2 Chad Hutchinson – Baseball and Football
Another former baseball player that landed on the Cowboys roster Chad Hutchinson’s professional career was short-lived and filled with disappointment. Initially a baseball player, Hutchinson burned out in the MLB in his one year with the St. Louis Cardinals where he posted an unbelievably bad 24.75 ERA. As an undrafted free agent in the NFL the Cowboys won a bidding war for him, signing him to a three year deal with a $3.1 million bonus. The Cowboys did not get their moneys worth. He succeeded Quincy Carter in his rookie year putting up mediocre stats only to lose the job to Carter the following season on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. Hutchinson spent some time in NFL Europe and was then brought over to Chicago where he became the Bears’ fourth starting QB for the 2004 season. He steadily fell down the depth chart the following season and was effectively out of the NFL shortly after being cut by the Bears.
1 Michael Jordan – Basketball & Baseball
Bad isn’t a word you’d expect to be using when talking about Michael Jordan, but that’s exactly what the former six-time MVP was whenever he put on a baseball uniform. Okay, well, he wasn’t terrible, but people certainly expected more from one of basketball’s greats. After retiring in October of 1993 following his first three-peat with the Bulls, Jordan decided to take up baseball and debuted for Southern League Birmingham Barons and the Arizona Fall League Scottsdale Scorpions in 1994. His Southern League stats were head-scathingly bad, with three home runs and a batting average of .202 it was hard to think why Jordan so easily left a sport he once dominated. Apparently he got the message and was back with the Bulls in time for the 1995-96 season.