Back in college, Jeff Samardzija was a double threat athlete. He played for both the baseball and football teams while at Notre Dame, establishing himself as fearsome right-handed pitcher and an athletic wide receiver. Not only that, but he was great at both sports, being named an All-American in each. He actually withdrew his name from the NFL Draft after being selected in the baseball draft by the Chicago Cubs, despite originally planning to play both in both sports like a modern day Bo Jackson.
The decision has turned out pretty well for Samardzija. Not only has he earned almost $70 million so far (a total that will jump to $127 million by the time his current contract ends in 2020), he’s become a durable pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. In addition to that, Samardzija feels that his decision to play baseball was the right one, considering the almost draconian policies of the NFL and many of its owners.
“I like how you’re treated in baseball,” Samardzija told Jon Paul Morosi of MLB Network. “You’re treated like a man. Show up on your time. It’s your career. They don’t hold your hand as much as football. That always bugged me about football – meetings and things like that. I know what I’m doing wrong. You don’t need to reiterate it to me that I’m (messing) up.”
“From what I’ve heard, individuality and free-thinking is frowned upon (in the NFL). Being your own man is not what they want. I think they want people to fall in line, toe the line and not ask questions on why they’re toeing the line. Talking to some buddies, I know a couple guys have been told they’re too smart for the NFL. In that aspect, (baseball) was the right choice for me. I felt like I had a higher ceiling in baseball and more hunger for it.”
In addition to how players are treated, baseball players tend to have longer careers. For example, some of the players Samardzija played with in college have already retired from the NFL. Plus MLB contracts are guaranteed, which should be enough for any athlete with a legitimate shot at both sports to choose baseball.