CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

{"event":["spring_training" ] }

MLB.com Columnist

Terence Moore

Could Russell Wilson become 'Russell'?

Could Russell Wilson become 'Russell'? play video for Could Russell Wilson become 'Russell'?

Essentially, Russell Wilson said this week in Surprise, Ariz., where he exchanged his helmet and shoulder pads of the Seattle Seahawks for the cap and sanitary hose of the Texas Rangers, that he wouldn't mind becoming "Russell" someday, as in "Deion" and "Bo."

That's opposed to "Michael."

More

You may recall that, from a baseball sense, that Michael guy didn't fare too well in his attempt to become a two-sport star for the ages. That's Michael, as in Jordan -- among the greatest NBA players ever. When Jordan decided to interrupt his run of world championships with the Chicago Bulls to fulfill his lifelong urge to play in the Major Leagues, he discovered he couldn't hit a curveball -- no matter how high he could leap toward the stars.

Jordan was no Deion, as in Sanders, or Bo, as in Jackson.

Let's start with Sanders, who thrived as "Prime Time" courtesy of his gifted swift feet and clever tongue. Between high-stepping his way into end zones after interceptions, Sanders was so proficient on the baseball diamond that he once led the National League in triples. He made tackles in the Super Bowl and had at-bats in the World Series. Not only that, he is the only person to play in a Major League Baseball game and NFL game in the same day.

As for Jackson, there is that commercial ("Bo Knows"), and there are those moments. Huge ones. There was his first All-Star plate appearance that produced a rocket of a blast that still is heading toward the other side of Mars. Remember The Throw? While standing flat-footed on the warning track, Bo hurled a strike to the plate to nail the speedy Harold Reynolds sprinting around third base toward home. There also was Bo trying to call timeout while batting, failing in his attempt and recovering to slam a home run. Plus, there were his slew of moments in the NFL, and they were summed up with one play: The time he literally blasted through trash-talking Brian Bosworth on "Monday Night Football" for the first of two touchdowns along the way to 221 yards rushing.

Which brings us to Russell, as in Wilson, the quarterback of the reigning Super Bowl champions, and he is dreaming of doing more than what he did at the Rangers' Spring Training camp for only a day.

What Wilson did was tease.

Even though he hadn't pulled on a baseball uniform since his Class A days three years ago with the Rockies, Wilson fielded grounders deftly enough with the other Texas infielders that Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters, "He surprised me for not being out on the baseball field for a while. I might have burned his legs up a little bit, but he made it through all the drills and did a fantastic job. He's got tremendous aptitude. That's why he is who he is. You give him something, and he knows how to apply it."

Wilson didn't hit, though. In fact, he didn't even play in the Rangers' subsequent home spring game against the Indians. That was never the plan, and neither was having this rising 25-year-old NFL star working full time for the Rangers any time soon. Still, they selected him last December in the Rule 5 Draft. They wanted him around for as long as they could get him this spring to inspire, and he surpassed their expectations.

On Monday evening, Wilson did his Knute Rockne thing during a session involving the Rangers' Minor League players, and then he did the same when he chatted during a private dinner with a group of Major League players and front-office staff.

All of that was long after Wilson rose earlier in the morning to reach the Rangers' clubhouse by 7 a.m. He was there for private workout sessions with Washington before they joined the whole group.

If you combine that with Wilson having baseball deep in his soul since he was 4 years old, you see why he had visions of Deion and Bo dancing in his head after getting a big-time taste of the sport. I mean, would he ever attempt to play football and baseball at the same time?

"You never say never," Wilson told the media gathering that resembled that of an All-Star Game or World Series. "I've always had the dream of playing two sports. If somehow it was a miracle that it could work out, I'd consider it. At the same time, my focus is winning the championship with the Seattle Seahawks, and [I] hope to be playing for a long time."

Good thing. As thrilling as Deion and Bo performed in two sports, there always was this nagging thought: How great would they have been had they concentrated on just a single sport?

Sanders is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he never made Cooperstown. He wasn't even close. Despite all the entertainment he provided while playing for the Yankees, Braves, Reds and Giants, he still finished his nine seasons overall as a line-drive hitter with a lifetime batting average of just .263. Jackson never reached the Hall of Fame in either football or baseball, because injuries zapped away his longevity in both sports.

So unless Wilson wishes to make a total commitment to baseball, he should remain only an NFL player, especially when you get this number after you combine both parts of his two seasons in Class A -- .229.

That was Wilson's batting average.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less
{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }