Baseball’s Oakland A’s drafted Kyler Murray with the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft, and even gave him a $4.66 million signing bonus when he signed his contract with the team. But after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2018, he announced that he would forgo a professional baseball career to enter the NFL draft and choose football as a career path. Murray will officially join the ranks of NFL players later this week when he gets drafted, potentially with the No. 1 pick. He’s not the only player to choose a football career over baseball. Here are some others who made the same decision.
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is the current NFL equivalent of Kyler Murray. The Colorado Rockies drafted Wilson in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft, and he has even been traded a couple of times and played in some minor league baseball and spring training games since then, but he never seriously pursued a career in baseball. Instead, he chose the NFL route and has been the Seahawks’ starting quarterback since 2012 after being selected in the third round of that year’s NFL draft. Choosing football was probably a good decision for Wilson, who just signed a four-year, $140 million extension with the Seahawks that makes him the highest-paid player in the league.
The Phillies drafted Ricky Williams out of high school in the 1995 MLB draft. He played in their minor league system while attending the University of Texas, where he won the Heisman in 1998, among other honors. After college, the Saints took him with the fifth overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft, and Williams ultimately chose the gridiron over the diamond.
His NFL career is largely deemed a disappointment due to not living up to expectations coming out of college thanks to his infamous drug use. However, Williams still amassed more than 12,000 yards from scrimmage in his career and scored 74 touchdowns over his 11 seasons in the league.
John Elway hit .318 with four home runs, 25 RBI, and 13 steals in 42 games for the Yankees’ Class-A affiliate in 1981. Just like Kyler Murray, Elway ultimately decided against pursuing his baseball career and chose to go into the NFL.
After being selected with the first overall pick by the Baltimore Colts — who subsequently traded him to the Broncos — in the 1983 draft, Elway enjoyed a Hall of Fame career, which included being named MVP in 1987 and winning two Super Bowls. He remains part of the NFL, as he has served as the Broncos’ general manager since 2011.
Chris Weinke has an interesting story. Like Kyler Murray, he was a top draft pick in baseball. The Blue Jays drafted him in the second round of the 1990 MLB draft out of high school. At the time, he decided to pursue a baseball career rather than go to college. He played in the Blue Jays’ minor league system for six seasons, but he gave up baseball after failing to make it to the majors.
Then, at the age of 25, he enrolled at Florida State University, where he played quarterback for the Seminoles’ football team. He won the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 2000 — at the age of 28 — and the Panthers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL draft.
Weinke’s NFL career wasn’t anything special. He threw just 15 touchdowns with 26 interceptions in five seasons with the Panthers and 49ers. Even though he didn’t put up good numbers in the NFL, he at least played at the sport’s highest level, which he wasn’t able to do in baseball.