Even though the NBA season is starting to dwindle away due to the lockout, the lack of work hasn't kept LeBron James from staying active. He has participated in several different exhibition games all over the country as well as doing a lot of charity work. However, with regular season games now being erased and no realistic end in sight due to how far apart the owners and players are in reaching a new CBA, LeBron may me looking at trying out another pro sport.
Last week he went back to his old prep school in Akron, Ohio and had himself some fun. Back in his high school days, James wasn't only known for his basketball skills. He was also a star football player, and he still has a lot of passion for the game. During his return to St. Vincent-St. Mary Prep last week, he strapped on all the football pads and participated in practice with the current team. Afterwards he sent out this tweet:
"Just got done practicing with the St.V Varsity football team, full pads and all. Felt great being back on the field. Should I?"
James wasn't done making his football curiosity a public interest. As if his first tweet didn't stir up enough chatter, he then sent a question to ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton, asking him "When is the deadline for a team to sign a free agent?"
Clayton would respond with a few different tweets. I'm guessing that once he saw LeBron reaching out to him, John went right to work looking things up to provide James with accurate information. I'm sure that Clayton knew this was going to get A LOT of attention so he needed to be sure of everything he tweeted. Here is what he came up with:
"LeBron, sorry to get back to you so late. Trade deadline next Tuesday 4 p.m. Free agency goes until last team is eliminated. Game on."
"LeBron, because you have some time and you were a WR, the 49ers just signed Brett Swain. You might check with Buffalo."
"LeBron, don't look at the Philadelphia Eagles. You're already on a Dream Team."
This is all very interesting to talk about, but that is all it's going to be. Talk. He would be putting his entire NBA salary in jeopardy if he tried playing football at any level. Any injury sustained doing anything active, not just football but really any sport or dangerous activity (and I'm sure its all covered specifically in his contract) would be a violation of his contract.
This isn't just for LeBron though; the same rules would be in any athletes contract. No team is going to invest millions of dollars into someone and allow them to do something that could lead to an injury and keep them from playing whatever it is they are getting paid to play. If you are asking yourself ‘what about the exhibition games that LeBron, and all those other NBA guys, have been playing lately?', here is the answer.
NBA players are covered by a ‘love of the game' clause in their contracts that lets them participate in those kinds of events. Beyond that, there isn't much room for testing the limits of these contracts. LeBron will just have to try and hold these football desires back, much like he did back in 2009 when then Cleveland Browns coach Eric Mangini offered James a tryout after LeBron said he could play in the NFL if he put his mind to it.
As gifted of an athlete as LeBron is, I don't doubt he could do it. After all, back at St. Vincent-St. Mary he was named first team all-Ohio as a sophomore and led his team to the state semi-finals as a junior. Who knows what may have happened in his senior year had he not stopped playing football to dedicate himself fully to pursuing an NBA career. I'd say that move ended up working out pretty well for him.
Unfortunately, until the NBA owners and players can start getting on the same page and moving forward towards a new collective bargaining agreement, LeBron isn't any closer to winning a Larry O'Brien Trophy then he is to winning a Vince Lombardi Trophy.