Sports fans appreciate multifaceted players. The rookie exploits of Japanese import Shohei Ohtani thrill American baseball fans looking back to Babe Ruth as the last Major Leaguer to star as both hitter and pitcher.
Two–sport players often develop high-level skills before their professional careers. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders excelled at baseball and football, and Danny Ainge excelled at basketball and baseball. All four players were two-sport collegiate stars before turning pro. Babe Didrikson Zaharias thrilled Americans with her amateur exploits in track and field and baseball, followed by a professional golf career featuring 41 tour wins. Jim Thorpe won the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon gold medals before playing seven years in Major League Baseball, and 13 seasons in the National Football League.
Michael Jordan showed the difficulty of returning to a sport, baseball, that he put aside as a basketball superstar. This demonstrates the extraordinary nature of Marcus Pollard's accomplishments. After two outstanding basketball seasons at Seward County Community College, Pollard starred, for two years, on the Bradley University basketball team, including a 23-8 season with an appearance in the NIT his senior year.
Pollard then had an NFL career spanning 192 games across 14 seasons with 131 starts, 349 receptions, 40 touchdowns, and a post-retirement stint as the Jacksonville Jaguars Director of Player Development all without playing college football. Pollard’s excellence was recognized in 2017 with an induction into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame.
Athletic proficiency requires dedication and focus. Athletes with the extraordinary ability to excel in more than one sport earn our singular attention.
Until next time, for Stories Beyond the Scores, I’m Chris Reynolds.