Sapp, Rose aren’t buying LBJ as NFL player

It’s an image that LeBron James has helped cultivate over the years.

Back in the day, James was an All-State wide receiver at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, as a  sophomore.  He helped lead his team to the state semifinals in football as a junior.

Those performances, his 6-foot-8, 255-pound size and his 44-inch vertical jump have led some to believe he could have been a standout receiver in the NFL if he .

If the lockout continues for an extended period, who knows? Seattle coach Pete Carroll even had James’ name stitched on a .

Despite those indicators, there’s a big difference from thinking you can play NFL football and actually thriving in the league. It’s why former NBA player Jalen Rose and NFL player Warren Sapp both doubt that James could really play in the NFL.

He’s a tremendous athlete, probably the best physical specimen you’ll see in sports,” Rose said earlier this week while serving as a guest panelist on the NFL Network’s No Huddle. 

“The one thing about football — you can go up for the football — I don’t think his feet’ll hit the ground on the way down because they will take him out. I think that game is too physical, I think it’s too demanding, I think that it’s hard to block defensive ends — it’s more to that job of being a tight end than just running routes.”

Sapp was even more forceful, wondering if James was competitive enough to play against the NFL’s best.

“How about LeBron do one-sixth of what Jordan did, let’s see him go win a championship,” Sapp said.

“Go do that. Go see if you can conquer your sport before you come over here because them boys on defense, we like pretty boys like that. We want to split them.”

But it’s also interesting to consider that basketball players a lot less accomplished than James — Tony Gonzalez, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates — have had a lot of success after leaving basketball to become NFL tight ends.

None of them have the combination of size, speed and explosive athletic ability that James has. Given time, he might be able to develop into an accomplished tight end.

But whether he could morph into an NFL contributor is a big, big stretch — particularly when there’s so much money for James to make in the relative safety of the NBA.

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