Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 11/30/11
There was the 2009 State Farm commercial in which LeBron James daydreamed about playing for the Cleveland Browns. There was an exchange of Tweets last month between James and ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton, with the locked-out Miami Heat star asking, "When is the deadline for a team to sign a free agent?" Mostly, it's come across as a joke even though many experts over the years have said James has the talent to play in the NFL. But James' Ohio high school football coach, former Miami Dolphins linebacker Jay Brophy, wouldn't be surprised one day to see James snaring passes in the league. "I truly believe that if he can win an NBA championship or two and he's still young enough and athletic enough and healthy enough, that he would want to play in the NFL," Brophy said Tuesday. "I don't think he would any time soon jeopardize all that he's worked for. But if he won a couple of championships, I think that he definitely would try it." While Brophy has needled James often about taking his talents to the NFL, he said the star forward never has seriously said that's a desire. But Brophy said it's his "gut feeling" James, 26, wants one day to "test the waters" in the NFL. Brophy was on the University of Miami's 1983 national title team before playing for the Dolphins from 1984-86 and concluding his NFL career with the New York Jets in 1987. He was as an assistant coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, when James was a freshman in 1999 and was the team's head coach when James starred as a varsity wide receiver in 2000 and 2001. Despite James' Tweet last month, Brophy never believed there was any chance James would have played in the NFL this season had the NBA lockout lingered before being settled last week. There would have been too much downside. "That wouldn't have been a good mix, with the scrutiny and the trouble there would be," Brophy, now retired in Green, Ohio, said about James playing football before he has won a championship in basketball. But if James can get some rings on his fingers while he's still young enough to run routes, Brophy sees it happening. After all, this is a guy who caught 42 passes for 752 yards and 11 touchdowns as a high school sophomore and 57 balls for 1,160 yards and 16 TDs as a junior while creating major interest among college recruiters. James didn't play his senior season to focus on the NBA. But Brophy believes he would have suited up had he not broke his wrist in June 2002. "Oh, yeah," Brophy said of James having the talent to play in the NFL. "I consider him a cross between Harold Carmichael and Randy Moss. He's 6-foot-8, like Carmichael, and he has the gracefulness of Moss. This guy can catch and run and he's got a big body. He would just have to change his mindset for football." That's a pretty impressive comparison. Carmichael, who played from 1971-84, and the 6-4 Moss, a pro from 1998-2010, combined for 1,533 career catches and 10 Pro Bowl appearances. "If I put all my time and commitment into it, if I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good," James said in 2009, when the State Farm commercial was running. Brophy last saw James when he was inducted last August along with four senior teammates from the 2003 state basketball title team into the St. Vincent-St. Mary Hall of Fame. Later during the lockout, James worked out with the high school football team, donning a uniform and snaring passes. "Just got done practicing with the St. V varsity football team, full pads and all," James Tweeted after that. "Felt great being back on the field. Should I?" If he takes care of business in the NBA, Brophy believes he will. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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