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The question is pertinent because both sports are played professionally, simultaneously, in September.

It came about, because the Texas Rangers "drafted" the Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a Rule 5 Draft. Wilson had played baseball earlier in his career.

More to the point, apparently "Neon" Deion Sanders actually played both in the late 1980s, with the Atlanta Braves and Falcons. How did he manage it?

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2 Answers 2

There have been two men in recent history who have managed to play both professional baseball and professional football at the same time. Deon Sanders and Bo Jackson.

At the most basic, the baseball and football seasons don't overlap very much. Football's preseason and early season does overlap somewhat with baseball's late and post season, and players will have to make a choice between which sport they play during that time (as it would be difficult to be in two places at once to be able to practice with your football team and keep a nightly baseball schedule). However, if you don't practice with the football team (and the team is OK with that), you can in theory play baseball during the week and play football on Sunday, only missing the Sunday (and maybe Saturday or Monday) baseball games.

This requires a great deal of good will from both your NFL and MLB teams (and obviously sufficient star power in both sports for them to be willing to let you have this much flexibility).

This is something that both Sanders and Jackson shared, both were very good at both sports to the extent that teams were willing to let them do both even though they had to sacrifice a roster spot to a player who would not be there 100% of the time.

However, this kind of schedule takes a toll. Sanders eventually chose football, Jackson eventually chose baseball.

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Note that Jackson chose baseball because of a football career-ending injury. –  edmastermind29 Dec 12 '13 at 18:45
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@edmastermind29: Good point And if you are a coach, how do you explain to your fans that the "star player" you signed got injured playing the OTHER sport? –  Tom Au Jan 5 at 17:51

I was about to post that Brian Jordan was another player who played in both the NFL and MLB, but he was still in minor league baseball when playing in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons. When he signed a new contract with the St Louis Cardinals (MLB) before the start of the 1992 NFL season, there was a $1.7 million bonus if he stopped playing football. So, in short, Jordan never played both baseball and football at the major league level simultaneously.

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