Allen Iverson is one of the greatest point guards to ever play in the NBA. The longtime Philadelphia 76er won four scoring titles, made 11 All-Star appearances, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Despite all that, Iverson actually believes he would’ve been a better football player than a basketball player had he pursued an NFL career after high school. And no, he wasn’t joking.
Allen Iverson was a high school football phenom
Professional basketball players defy unimaginable odds when they make it all the way from high school to the NBA, so chances are they were superior to their classmates in more than one sport.
That was exactly the case for Iverson, who was a high school football superstar growing up in Hampton, Virginia. A.I. played quarterback, running back, and defensive back for Bethel High School in the early 1990s, and he even returned kickoffs and punts.
Iverson led Bethel to a state championship in 1992 and was named the Associated Press’ High School Player of the Year in the same season. He also tied the Virginia record for the most interceptions in a game when he picked off the opposing quarterback five times in one night, according to Vice.
Top college programs such as Florida State took note of Iverson’s dominance and versatility on the football field and started making him offers, but he decided to let go of his football dreams and attend Georgetown to play basketball instead.
Allen Iverson boldly claimed he would’ve been a better football player
You might assume Iverson made the right choice when he decided to bail on his NFL dreams to play college basketball. After all, he went on to become a Hall of Famer and one of the all-time great point guards in NBA history.
But “The Answer” firmly believes he would’ve been a better football player than a basketball player had he gone the other route. Iverson made the absurdly bold claim on a recent episode of the Club Shay Shay podcast with NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe.
“Not being cocky, not being arrogant, I know I would’ve been a better player in football than I was in basketball. That’s not disrespecting the basketball gods. That’s not disrespecting the game that’s done so much for me. I’m a household name. I’m a Hall of Famer in that sport, but football was my first love.”Allen Iverson
So why did he end up choosing basketball over football?
“I just didn’t like [lifting] weights because I thought they were too heavy, but football I know I would’ve had to lift,” he said. “And you can ask anybody from Virginia and they would tell you Shannon that hands down I would’ve been better in football. That was my first love.”
A mix between Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Michael Vick?
Iverson could’ve chosen to play any position he wanted if he decided to play football in college instead of basketball, but quarterback was always his dream. He had a rocket for an arm and could escape pressure with ease, and he would’ve been a joy to watch in the NFL.
“I would’ve wanted to be accurate like Aaron Rodgers and have the arm like Aaron Rodgers, but I definitely would wanna run like Russell [Wilson]. Definitely would wanna run like Lamar Jackson or Michael Vick,” Iverson said. “In basketball, I didn’t want the opponent to feel like they could do just one thing to shut me down. I wanted to have a variety of things that I could counteract with when they try to take something away from me, and it would’ve been the same thing in football.”
Considering Iverson became an all-time great in his second-best sport, it’s not unfathomable to think he would be in the conversation with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Joe Montana today if he chose to follow his true passion.
Oh, what could’ve been.