In Comparison: LeBron James vs. NFL Quarterbacks

Can we talk about LeBron?

With LeBron James being one of the most polarizing figures in sports, he has drawn a lot of comparisons to other athletes. What other athletes have as much pressure to perform on them as LeBron does while trying to win his first NBA Championship and the second for Dewayne Wade and the Miami Heat?

I started thinking about it and I realized that LeBron is treated much like NFL starting quarterbacks in terms of expectations. In comparison to some past NFL greats, what is most likely to be his legacy? In his third NBA Finals appearance, is LeBron on pace with the former Buffalo Bills great,Jim Kelly? Kelly made it to four Super Bowl appearances in the early 90s, but never won The Big One. Will he be like John Elway? Elway had early success, with two losing Super Bowl appearances in 86 and 87, but finally won the tropy (twice), late in his career. Or will he be like my guy, Dan Marino? Marino put up crazy, epic numbers season after season, but never captured championship glory.

We don’t know how LeBron’s entire career will play out but as it stands now… well, since he hasn’t won a ring yet I have to go with Jim Kelly on this one.

What about his contemporaries? Is he his sport’s Tom Brady? That’s not likely since Brady wasn’t highly touted coming out of Michigan. What about Drew Brees? Peep where I am going with this one! He left the team that drafted him, the San Diego Chargers, and they also had playoff success, but they never made it to the Super Bowl. Okay scratch that one!

Ah ha…what about Tim Tebow? They are both very polarizing figures in their respective sports and in the general public’s opinion. Wait, but Tim went to college and won two national championships at the University of Florida and was the Heisman Trophy winner in 2007. And at the controversial 25th pick in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, Tebow, was nowhere near as sought-after as LeBron was coming out of high school. So Tebow was not “The Chosen One” but more or less one of the many chosen. What about Peyton Manning?! Yes! Manning was the first pick in the 1998 by the Indianapolis Colts and he suffered through many years of coming up short in the playoffs and is still often criticized for only winning one Super Bowl. Manning also suffered years of critics questioning his “clutchness” (or lack thereof), just like LeBron is. I am going to go with Manning on this one.

But in all fairness it is an unlikely comparison, because LeBron affects the game in so many different ways and NFL quarterbacks can only change the game on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, they can try to rally the troops by yelling and screaming obscenities at their defense to gas them up, but they are not making plays on the field. Meanwhile LeBron is a top notch defender and a well-versed scoring threat at the same time.

No matter how you look at it, what LeBron has done thus far in his career is downright impressive (whether the Heat beat the Thunder or not)! I only wish more people could remove their emotions from whatever skewed vision they have of LeBron James the basketball player – and be entertained. We should sit back and appreciate his rare physical gifts and pure talent, even if he did take them to South Beach. I, for one, consider myself lucky to be a witness.

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