Well, it’s hardly a secret anymore, but former four time Pro Bowler and longtime Dallas Cowboys star QB Tony Romo is toughing it out in his first official PGA Tour event.
Judging by his score of first round score 77 at the tour’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, it may be his last.
Competing as an amateur on a sponsor’s exemption, Romo carded three birdies, six bogies and a double bogey on the day. He also hit eight of 14 fairways and nine of 18 greens in regulation, while recording 288.0 yards average driving distance.
While Romo duffs around with some of golf’s best, another former star QB, Tim Tebow, is still sticking around in the New York Mets system. Really no secret there.
There are, however, several big league stars, superstars and even Hall of Famers who played second sports we were surprised at. Here are 16 of them, in no particular order.
16. Ferguson Jenkins – Basketball
For much of his Hall of Fame Baseball career, Canadian hurler Fergie Jenkins was dominant. Between 1967 and 1972, he won 20 or more games every season and finished his career with seven 20-game winning campaigns and 284 total victories. He also struck out over 3,000 batters and hit 13 homers in 413 games. Growing up in Chatham, Ontario, Jenkins was a multi-sport athlete who also dabbled in ice hockey, track and field and basketball. And when it came to basketball, Jenkins wasn’t kidding around. Along with fellow Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Bob Gibson, Jenkins suited up with the Harlem Globetrotters. He likely, then, would have played with Globetrotters’ legends such as Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Geese Ausbie, among others.
15. Nate Ebner – Rugby Sevens
It’s one thing to play football at the highest level and win a couple of Super Bowl rings. It’s quite another to play rugby for your nation’s Rugby 7’s team at an Olympics. But that is exactly what New England Patriots defensive back and special teams Pro Bowler Nate Ebner did, sandwiching the 2016 Rio Olympics with Team USA between Super Bowl victories in XLIX and LI. Ebner, who went to the Pro Bowl because of his Special Teams prowess in 2016, was once the youngest player ever to make the U.S. Rugby 7’s team at just 17 years old. However, even after playing at a high level for the national team (he walked on as a football player after two years) he wasn’t offered a pro contract and chose to sign with New England in 2012, after the Pats selected him 197th overall. In 2016, the Patriots granted Ebner a leave of absence to try out for Team USA and he made it against long odds. He would score two tries during pool play at Rio for an American team that would ultimately finish ninth.
14. Dan Ainge – Baseball
Some people might not know it, but before current Boston Celtics President/GM Danny Ainge hit it big in hoops, he was slugging it out in the Toronto Blue Jays system. While still at Brigham Young University playing basketball, Ainge was good enough to play parts of three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, who drafted him in the 15th round of the 1977 draft. In 211 games, the utility infielder/outfielder hit .220, with 19 doubles, four triples, two home runs and 37 RBI. Basketball was his true calling, however, and after the Celtics chose him 31st overall in 1981, he packed his cleats and glove and the rest is history. He would go on to play 14 seasons in the NBA, seven and a half with Boston, winning two titles with Bird, McHale and Parish on those powerful 1980s Celtics teams. Ainge would play over 1,000 NBA games, averaging 11.5 points and 4.0 assists.
13. Ryne Sandberg – Football
It’s not that rare for baseball players to excel at other sports, particularly football or even basketball. Ryne Sandberg, surprisingly, was one of them. The future NL MVP and multiple time winner of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers was actually recruited to play quarterback with his home state Washington State University Cougars. Sandberg, from nearby Pullman, was three-sport star at his high school and during his tenure there in the late 1970s was named to Parade Magazine’s High School All-America football team. In 1978, NCAA recruiters were beating a path to his door and he eventually signed a letter of intent with WSU. However, the siren call of baseball proved too strong when the Philadelphia Phillies took him in the 20th round of the ’78 draft. The rest, is history.
12. Robert Griffin III – Hurdler
Some thought, after RG III was released by the Washington Redskins in 2015, that the once promising NFL QB would turn back to his other sporting love, hurdles. Griffin was a standout athlete at Copperas Cove High School in Copperas Cove, TX (near Fort Hood). He was a three-sport star in football, basketball and track, with hurdles being his specialty. He set state 4-A records in the 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles but went to Baylor on a football scholarship — with an eye to the track. With the Baylor track and field team, he would win the Big 12 400-meter hurdle competition and would later finish third at the NCAA meet in the spring of 2008. He was such a good runner, having logged a personal best 49.22, that he got all the way to the 2008 Beijing Olympic trials semi-finals. His dream didn’t quite die there, but he did take the football path, which turned out pretty good — for a little while at least.
11. Jesse Lumsden – Bobsled
For those unfamiliar with the CFL, Jesse Lumsden had great pedigree. The son of former Hall of Fame CFL fullback Neil Lumsden forged his own identity in the league, playing briefly as a running back for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders. The 2004 Hec Crighton Award winner as the CIS top football player (think Canada’s Heisman) also had tryouts with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. Injuries took their toll on Lumsden and with his speed and muscular build he was a good fit for bobsled. So it was that the husky football player became a brake man on Team Canada’s two and four-man bobsled teams for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where he helped them both finish fifth. Since then, he’s won a couple World Cup silver medals and competed in the two and four-man Olympic competitions in Sochi and Pyeongchang.
10. Rick Rhoden – Golf
Long before Tony Romo hung up his helmet and cleats and started walking the fairways and greens of the PGA Tour, former All-Star major league pitcher Rick Rhoden did the same. A two-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger award winner (as a pitcher), Rhoden used that hand-eye coordination post-baseball to play on the Champions Tour. It is there that the now 64-year-old native of Boynton Beach, FLA had three career top-10 finishes, his best a tie for fifth at the Allianz Championship in 2003. That was no mean feat for a guy who really didn’t start golfing seriously until after age 36. He topped several big names in that Allianz championship, including two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw, four-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin, Masters champ Craig Stadler and two-time major champ Fuzzy Zoeller. Not bad.
9. Jim Brown – Lacrosse
Of all the sports, besides football, that legendary running back Jim Brown played, lacrosse seems the most incongruous. While at Syracuse University in the early 1950s, the Georgia native excelled not only at football, but also basketball, track and field and lacrosse. In his junior year with the Orangeman lacrosse squad, Brown was a second team All-American and then the following year he made the first team, scoring 43 goals in 10 games, which put him second in the nation. He was so good at lacrosse that the Carrier Dome has a huge tapestry hanging in it that depicts Brown in his football and lacrosse uniforms. Of course, football would bring him fame and fortune, as the Hall of Famer won a NFL Title, was MVP three times and rushing yards leader an astounding eight times during his illustrious career.
8. Joe Nieuwendyk – Lacrosse
We could easily have put former NHL teammate and good friend Gary Roberts in this spot, as both he and Joe Nieuwendyk were also star lacrosse players with the Minto Cup winning Whitby Warriors in 1984. Unlike Roberts, who was actually drafted into the OHL and went directly to the NHL after, Nieuwendyk’s best sport growing up was lacrosse and was considered the top junior player in that sport in the mid-80s. Undrafted by any OHL team and shunned by the NHL later too, Nieuwendyk elected to go to Ivy League Cornell University, where he played hockey and lacrosse for Big Red. Hockey would become his focus after a terrific freshman season, where he earned ECAC Rookie of the Year honors in 1985. That led the Calgary to orchestrate a then unpopular trade with the old Minnesota North Stars that sent Kent Nilsson east so they could draft Nieuwendyk 27th overall. It would prove to be huge, as future NHL Hall of Famer Nieuwendyk gave up lacrosse and would lead the Flames to a Stanley Cup title in 1989, after recording his second straight 50-goal season.
7. Joe Thomas – Shot Put And Discus
After setting a NFL record by taking 10,363 snaps, the durable and affable Joe Thomas finally hung up his cleats with the Cleveland Browns. The big offensive tackle out of Wisconsin didn’t miss a game between 2007, his debut, and 2016, finally succumbing to a torn triceps in his seventh game in 2017. He retired after the season ended, having gone to the Pro Bowl 10 straight times and earning All-Pro honors nine times (seven First Team nods). What many people may not know about Thomas is the fact he was an outstanding track and field athlete in high school and later at the University of Wisconsin, in the shot put and discus. While with the Badgers, mostly to play football, Thomas got a lot of national recognition for his performances in those two disciplines, even being named to the 2005 second team All-Big 10 Conference team.
6. Tom Glavine – Hockey
A hockey player from Massachusetts is as typical as a baseball player from California. However, it’s not that typical of a hockey player from New England turning out to be a Hall of Fame pitcher. Tom Glavine, who would win a World Series Championship and two Cy Young Awards in his illustrious baseball career, mostly with Atlanta, was a good enough hockey player to be drafted 69th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984. Putting that in perspective, Glavine was drafted ahead of such luminaries as Brett Hull (Hall of Fame, taken 117th), and Luc Robitaille (also a Hall of Famer, taken 180th). As for his hockey career, Glavine obviously took a different path, as the Braves also picked him in the second round of the 1984 draft and three years later he would win the first of his career 305 games. As a point of interest, Glavine did appear in one pro hockey game, with the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators during the 2009-10 season.
5. Herschel Walker – Bobsled
Of all the athletes on this list, Walker might have been the most multi-dimensional. Not only was he a star in both college and pro football, he was also a gifted in mixed martial arts, track and field, taekwondo, ballet dancing (!) and lastly, bobsleigh. After a decent year with the Minnesota Vikings in 1991 (1,000+ combined yards, 10 touchdowns), the speedy and muscular Walker was selected to the U.S. four-man bobsled team as a brake man/pusher for the 1992 winter Olympics in Albertville. He would eventually compete in the two-man with teammate Brian Shimer and place seventh overall. It would be his first and only Olympics and afterward he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he would have his second of two 1,000 yards (+) rushing seasons. After his football career was over, Walker recorded a 2-0 record in MMA and got a fifth degree black belt in Taekwondo.
4. Teemu Selanne – Race Car Driver
The “Finnish Flash” was flashy in more ways than one, apparently. Teemu Selanne, who set the NHL world on its ear by scoring a record 76 goals and adding 56 assists during his rookie NHL season with Winnipeg in 1992-93, also had another fast sport on his resume. That would be Rally Car racing. A big time car collector, Selanne entered the World Rally Championship twice (1997 and 1998) under the pseudonym “Teukka Salama”, roughly translated to “Teddy Flash.” He did this probably to throw off his hockey bosses in Anaheim, where he was still a 50-goal scorer and superstar. The very popular and fun-loving Finn had his fledgling rally career stopped cold in 1999 when he was involved in a crash at a rally race practice in his home country. He walked away unscathed and would play until the 2013-14 season with Anaheim, amassing a Hall of Fame worthy 684 goals and 773 assists in 1,451 games.
3. Golden Tate – Baseball
It makes sense that Pro Bowl and Super Bowl champion receiver Golden Tate was an outfielder in baseball. The two-sport star at Notre Dame was good enough to be drafted not once, but twice in separate MLB drafts. He was taken in the 42nd round of the 2007 MLB draft by Arizona, followed by a 50th round pick by San Francisco in 2010 (which coincided with his first season in the NFL). With the Fighting Irish baseball squad in 2008, the speedy Tate appeared in 18 games, hitting .262 with four RBI and three stolen bases. Catching the pigskin, though, would be the Tennessee native’s true calling, as he piled up 2,707 yards and 26 TDs in three years at Notre Dame, which earned him a second round selection in the 2010 NFL draft by Seattle. He never looked back, eschewing baseball for the gridiron and in eight NFL seasons with Seattle and now Detroit has 6,419 receiving yards and 34 TDs.
2. Mookie Betts – Bowling
There are some things in the wide world of sports that just make you go “hmmm.” Mookie Betts, a two-time MLB All-Star and one of the best young outfielders in baseball, has the strangest hobby sport — bowling. Yes, bowling, like the game featured in “The Big Lebowski” and “Kingpin.” He’s so good at the game that he has competed in the Professional Bowlers Association World Series of Bowling in 2015 and 2017. Betts has also rolled three perfect games in his life, including one during the 2017 PBA World Series event. Of course, baseball pays the bills and Betts signed a contract with the Boston Red Sox after being taken in the fifth round of the 2011 amateur draft. In four seasons, the speedy outfielder has posted a .292 batting average, with 236 extra base hits, 310 RBI and 80 stolen bases. In the playoffs he has hit a cumulative .269 with one stolen base in seven games.
1. Tom Brady – Baseball
It’s seems that there isn’t much Tom Terrific can’t do. A shoo-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’s won five titles, was MVP in four Super Bowl games, been to the Pro Bowl 13 times and was NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice. The Blessed One was a phenom from high school on and also played basketball and baseball, very well it seemed. In baseball he was a left-handed hitting catcher with power — not a pitcher as one might expect from a quarterback — and in 1995 he so impressed MLB scouts that he was drafted in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos. The old Expos were so convinced of his impending greatness they offered him money typically reserved for second and third round picks. However, his love for football trumped his love for money and baseball and in 1995 he signed a letter of intent to play at Michigan. He likely made the right choice, but we can’t help but wonder.