Return of the two-sport athlete

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Return of the two-sport athlete

Theres nothing cooler than a two-sport professional athlete.

I dont present this as opinion, but as an irrefutable scientific fact.

Bo Jackson. Deion Sanders. Brian Jordan. Danny Ainge . . .

They all accomplished something that most of us could only dream of except they did it twice. And there's an undeniable aura of awesomeness that comes with that.

Sadly, its been a while since America was blessed with the greatness of a two-sport star, but it looks like one member of the New England Patriots might be ready to throw his name into the ring.

Christopher Price has the full story over at WEEI, but apparently Julian Edelman put on a show in Toronto last weekend during an impromptu workout with the Blue Jays. This, according to Toronto coach (and Maine-native) Brian Butterfield, who tells Price that . . .

Edelman was great at shortstop: "Kelly Johnson took balls alongside him, and said he was amazing."

And in the outfield: Dwayne Murphy, who won seven Gold Gloves, was watching him take fly balls and said he was impressive.

And that he was also dynamic at the dish: In his first round or two, he struggled a little, but you could see the bat speed and the athleticism. And then, he got hot he hit two balls into the middle deck and five home runs total. The two in the middle deck were absolute bombs. When he hit them, the guys were just screaming and yelling and telling each other, Look at that! He just wowed all of our guys. Im a huge fan of his to begin with, and he was just even better than I thought. A great athlete.

It's a fun idea, but for some reason, I doubt that Edelman will join the ranks of the two-sport star anytime soon. But it got me thinking: Which other Boston athletes should take a crack at expanding their athletic identity?

Here are a few suggestions:

Rajon Rondo: Wide receiver or secondary? Thats the only question.

As a receiver, Rondos the same height as Anquan Boldin, with the speed and shiftiness of DeSean Jackson and hands the size of Danny Woodhead. Hed be a serious deep threat, a nightmare after the catch and no matter where the balls thrown you know hell get it. Theres a question of durability, but theres no doubting his toughness. (Not to mention, its hard to get complacent under the NFL spotlight.)

As a free safety, Rondo might struggle with the physicality, but can you imagine the mental stranglehold hed have on these quarterbacks? Hed know where the balls going before the QB made his first read and can probably go from sideline to sideline in four strides.
Avery Bradley: Unless Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand leave hockey for competitive MILF Hunting, Im not sure theres a duo in Boston that naturally fits into another sport better than BradleyRondo do with football. Isnt Bradley the perfect strong safety to complement Rondo? Or what if you played Avery at corner? Receivers would lose their minds trying to shake him in the open field.

Honestly, if the Pats stick Bradley on Randy Moss when the Niners come to town in Week 15, Moss will quit before halftime. (Just kidding, he'll be released by Week 6.;)

Vince Wilfork: No Timmy? No problem. Throw some pads on Big 75, push him in front of the net, and the net no longer exists. Have at it, Ovechkin.

Rob Gronkowski: Get Gronk a speedo and a swim cap, and hes a dead ringer for just about any European water polo player. In an unrelated story: Ill be shocked and disappointed if at some point this summer a picture doesnt surface of Gronk out partying in nothing but a speedo and a swim cap.

Ray Allen: First of all, theres no question that Allen has the focus and discipline to become a reliable NFL kicker. He could have an entire second career if he wants. But I could also see him as maybe more in his younger years a solid middle reliever, or a crafty starter. Nothing too overpowering but a more cerebral guy like Greg Maddux or Bronson Arroyo and Im sorry for using those two guys in the same sentence.

Also, it goes without saying that Allen has potential as a professional golfer. Only 13 years until he's eligible for the Senior PGA.

Alfredo Aceves: They call special teams the Kamikaze Corps and theres no athlete in Boston who embodies the Kamikaze state of mind better than Aceves. He'd be perfect out there alongside Matthew Slater and Co. Good luck getting him to wear a helmet, though.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Maybe its because he reminds me of Apolo Ohno, but Ellsbury may have missed his calling as a speed skater. Come on, would you be shocked to learn that he has a full-body spandex suit hanging somewhere in his closet?

Zdeno Chara: This might be a little obvious, but I'd love to see Big Z take a shot on the jockey circuit.

Tom Brady: Hed start his career as a catcher, then make a seamless transition to first base before becoming a manager, commissioner and then the President of the United States.
Sasha Pavlovic: Pavlovic has a very "Olympic gymnast" look and feel to him. Cant you see him wearing a leotard, double wristbands and delivering a killer routine on the uneven bars? Oh, just me? K.

JaJuan Johnson: Hed make the ideal "left upright" at Gillette.

Nate Solder: How many time this postseason did you wish the Celtics had an enforcer? A Charles OakleyKendrick Perkins kind of guy who could strike fear into opponents? Well, nothing says fear like a 6-foot-8, 319-pound monster. And it doesn't hurt Solder averaged 15 points and and eight rebounds a game in high school for the Colorado state champs. (What's really scary though? 6-8, 319 pounds probably isn't far off from LeBron's actual measurements.)

Tim Thomas: Olympic archery. He's doesn't have to worry about teammates, and gets to shoot things.

Dustin Pedroia: The PedroiaMarchand comparison has been beaten to death these past few years, but not without reason. These guys are the same. Throw Pedroia on some skates and he's every bitter the grinder and instigator that Marchand is. Plus, I'd love to see the reaction if Pedey called out Claude Julien the way he did Bobby V.

Danny Woodhead: Just for fun, the Sox should trot Woodhead out to second base in a No. 15 jersey and see how long it takes someone to notice. Im guessing the first ground ball.
Shawn Thornton: Seeing how he turns 35 next month, Thornton probably missed the window to join the ranks of the MMA elite, but he definitely has the make-up. Even now, I bet he could go out there and just take hit after hit until the other guy tires out like the second coming of Homer Simpson's boxing career.

Wes Welker: Welker gives off that dirt dog vibe. I can see him making it as a gritty, scrappy outfielder like Darin Erstad or Darren Bragg, or some other guy not named Darren. Trot Nixon?

Brandon Spikes: I'm not sure if Spikes knows how to skate, but he should learn. Can you imagine what this guy would do for hockey? He'd revolutionize the game! And in the process, shatter more glass than Darryl Dawkins.

And that's all for now. But seriously, Julian. We need this as sports fans. Just give it a try. I'm sure Bill will understand. He always understands.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

BOSTON – Al Horford had the kind of game that stands out because of the way he scored from so many different spots on the floor. 

But the true measure of his value to this team usually lies in what he brings to the floor defensively. 

Horford had one of his better games defensively in Boston’s 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday, a game in which he had a season-high six blocked shots. 

For the season, the four-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 2.9 blocks per game.

He’ll be looking to do more of the same tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

While Philly doesn’t have a player as dominant and difficult to contain as DeMarcus Cousins, their top post player Joel Embiid has been impressive even with a minutes restriction after having missed the last two seasons with injuries and recovery. 

Against Sacramento, he had a season-high six blocked shots which was one short of tying his career high which came against the Kings during the 2010-2011 season. 

Although Horford has ranked among the NBA’s top big men when it comes to blocking shots, the Celtics knew when they signed him to a four-year, $113 million contract they were adding a player who could help with rim protection. 

The biggest play in the Celtics’ win over Sacramento came in the closing seconds when Horford was credited with blocking DeMarcus Cousins’ shot. Horford was fouled and went to the line and made his free throws to secure the victory. 

“Playing at the power forward position it really frees me up defensively,” Horford said. “I feel like I can run around a little more and have more impact. When you are a center a lot of the times you get caught up with the bigs and it’s a little harder to get out to shooters and stuff. I’m just trying to be active, as active as I can.”

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas who was among the Green Teamers to recruit Horford to sign with Boston, seeing him protect the rim the way he did on Friday was no surprise.

“We’ve always known when we recruited him we knew that was what he was good at,” Thomas said. “Even if he doesn’t block shots, he alters shots and changes them. He’s a hell of a player on both ends of the floor and he played a hell of a game (on Friday).”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens likes what he sees out of Horford defensively, especially now that he plays for Boston and not Atlanta which eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs last season. 

“He was terrific in our series,” Stevens said. “Terrific. And so, playing him 10 times last year, and so, I mean, I think I’m an idiot but after 10 times I had at least an idea. You know, he’s all over the place and he covers a lot of ground, he calls out calls, and I think he’s a competitive guy. And that proof is in his winning track record.”