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

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

Drellich: Why David Ortiz should hang around the Red Sox more often

BOSTON — David Ortiz should stop by Fenway Park more often. 

There may be no tangible gain for his old teammates. At this point, it defies logic to think there’d be tangible harm.

On Thursday evening before Ortiz’s charity roast at House of Blues, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy recalled how it was a no-brainer to plan Friday’s jersey retirement so soon after Ortiz’s exit from the game. 

Kennedy said he was the one who actually broached the question with team management last year. Basically, everyone looked at him sideways because of the implication any other time but right away made sense.

“No person has meant more to the [John] Henry-[Larry] Lucchino-[Tom] Werner era than David Ortiz,” Kennedy said.

Let’s accept the premise wholly: that because Ortiz is so special, the timing for his ceremony deserved to be just as unique. The design of the day was centered on how much Ortiz means to people: fans, the team.

Why, then, has Ortiz been staying away from the ballclub? Dustin Pedroia has been a leader for years. Ortiz is a positive influence. The idea that having Big Papi swing by Fenway sometimes would actively stunt the development of the Red Sox’ identity is a stretch. 

There’s been a grace period of nearly three months. 

“Well I, I could never entirely walk away. I have been around,” Ortiz said Friday night in a press conference. “I have been watching the games and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don’t like to, you know, be in the way of anything. 

“I know that, me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I don’t — I tell myself, give everybody their space and I don’t want to, now that I’m not playing, I don’t want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something, so. I have been able to keep my distance so I’m not in nobody’s way. But I stay in touch with everybody and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things. 

“But me and the organization, we’ve been talking for a while about me working with the organization. Probably Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it’s going to happen, and at some point I’m going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow some way.”

It’d be ridiculous to say Ortiz is the reason Rick Porcello pitched well and Hanley Ramirez homered Friday. It’d be a flat-out lie.

But Ortiz’s presence shouldn’t somehow be a distraction, if leadership and the mentality in the Red Sox clubhouse is as the Red Sox describe it.

"Pedey has been a leader of this team for the entire time he's been here,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “To me, the clubhouse has been a place where guys have felt comfortable. They've been able to come in and be themselves. They have rallied around one another when times have called for that. When you remove an individual, there are going to be other people who step up. I firmly believe that has taken place.”

If that’s the case, then how does what Farrell said in the same pregame press conference yesterday make sense?

“[Ortiz] has a keen awareness that he could potentially keep others from flourishing with the potential thought and the question always being there,” Farrell said. “Well, he is around, is he ever coming back? All the things that I think have been reported on to a certain extent. I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I wouldn't be surprised if that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he's done.”

But that decision seems flawed. No one in that room should be hurt or confused by Ortiz coming by occasionally — absolutely not now that the jersey’s hanging. (A little speculation he could un-retire was throwing the Sox off their game? Really?) 

If anything, the team should find comfort in seeing such an important, charismatic man with ties to the group.

Ortiz is special. The team has adapted well without him. If those are facts, the need for Ortiz to stay away doesn’t make sense.

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Danny Ainge made no secret of being miffed when Kansas small forward Josh Jackson canceled his workout with the Celtics in Sacramento at the last minute. 

The Celtics, of course, passed on Jackson and selected Jayson Tatum of Duke with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft on Thursday night.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough's comments at Jackson's introductory press conference lend some credence to the theory that the canceled workout was part of Phoenix's plan to keep the Celtics from selecting Jackson and leave him for the Suns at No. 4.

Check out this portion of Jackson's presser via a tweet from Mike McClune of KPHO-TV: 

"I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition," said McDonough, a former assistant GM to Ainge with the C's "The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. [Armstrong, Jackson's agent] and I and...other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.

"We played by the rules – I guess,” McDonough said to some laughter in the room.

Jackson will certainly get more playing time with the rebuilding Suns that the contending Celtics. Ainge called Jackson "a terrific kid and a good player” after the draft, and said the Celtics were set on Tatum all along, even if they hadn't traded the No. 1 pick.

Jackson said his decision to blow off Ainge coach Brad Stevens and assistant GM Mike Zarren after their cross-country flight was "last-minute" and his plans to work out "just didn't work out."