Charles Barkley: Russell Westbrook Could've Been NFL All-Pro Safety

Exploring Westbrook's potential prowess on the football field.

by Nouman Rasool
Charles Barkley: Russell Westbrook Could've Been NFL All-Pro Safety
© Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In the age-old debate surrounding the athletic prowess of NBA and NFL players, one recurring topic of speculation is the potential crossover of NBA stars into the NFL league. The discussion heats up even further when icons like Russell Westbrook are brought into the conversation.

Considering basketball stalwarts like LeBron James once flirted with a football career, the speculation isn't baseless. However, while former NFL figures like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates showcased their basketball flair in college, switching between these two major leagues remains mostly a sports fan's fantasy, primarily due to the overlapping seasons.

Intriguingly, Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has recently chimed in with his take on this debate. Barkley, never one to shy away from bold remarks, stated during an interview with seasoned sports journalist Dan Patrick, “I genuinely admire Westbrook as an athlete.

If he ventured into football, there's no doubt in my mind he'd be an all-pro either as a safety or a corner”.

Westbrook's Hypothetical NFL Dominance

Westbrook, with his explosive speed and unmatched agility, could indeed have been a force to reckon with on the football field, covering vast stretches in mere seconds.

Yet, unless Westbrook decides to don an NFL jersey, this remains pure speculation. Diving deeper into their achievements, both Barkley and Westbrook share the distinction of being NBA MVPs, with Barkley's win in 1993 and Westbrook's stellar 2017 season, where he emulated the great Oscar Robertson by averaging a season-long triple-double.

Further elaborating, Barkley added, “Quick guards like Kevin Johnson could easily transition as wide receivers, safeties, or corners in the NFL”. He hinted that while larger guards might fit the mold of a tight end or deep threat, their nimble counterparts could dominate as slot receivers.

However, Barkley also firmly believes that Westbrook is an exception. While there are undeniable gaps in Westbrook's basketball game, if there were an NBA player poised to succeed in the NFL, Barkley is betting on Westbrook.

But he was also quick to note, “Most NBA players don't possess the ruggedness required for football. While their talent is commendable, when it comes to the raw, physical demand of football, basketball players might fall short”.

In essence, while crossover dreams might remain in the realm of 'what-ifs,' Barkley's insights offer a tantalizing glimpse into the world of sports' greatest hypotheticals.

Charles Barkley Russell Westbrook