Would a world-class soccer player truly consider switching to the other kind of football? That’s exactly what Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Harry Kane said he’d like to do. During an interview with Good Morning America on Wednesday, Kane told Michael Strahan that he’d “love to give it a go” sometime later this decade.
Of course, just like most things in the sports world, that led to a betting market being created. Odds came out on Thursday for 10 high-profile soccer players on whether they would be playing in the National Football League before the end of the 2024-25 campaign. Kane opened as a +1,000 best odds pick, with superstars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo being the only other players with better than +5,000 odds.
Obviously, the prices are very nice, and the discussion is a fun one to be had. First of all, could any of these players actually have success moving from kicking a round ball into a low goal to kicking an oblong one into an aerial target? And secondly…would any of them actually do it within the next two years?
Let's have some fun as I break it all down for you!
Odds to play in the NFL by the end of the 2024-25 season
|Kevin De Bruyne||+5,000|
Odds as of June 5, 2023.
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Believe it or not, it wouldn’t be the first time a soccer player has tried his hand at America’s version of football and succeeded. It happened a few times in the 1970s and ’80s, but most recently Josh Lambo of the Jacksonville Jaguars fame (or Urban Meyer fame, perhaps) made the transition, as the former first-round pick of FC Dallas switched from being an MLS goalkeeper and eventually was named to the 2019 All-Pro team.
But that was a goalkeeper – and they’re used to booting the ball long and into a specific area. None of the 10 players listed on the odds are a goalkeeper. In fact, eight of them are forwards, with Luka Modric and Kevin De Bruyne being the only midfielders. That said, are any of them worth betting on?
A Harry situation
Let’s start with Kane, given he’s why these odds exist. Do I think he’ll give it a shot at some point in the future? Absolutely. Do I think it would be before the end of next year’s NFL season? Even if the price were +100,000 instead of +1,000 I probably still would say it’s a stretch, but I’d at least consider it. However, that’s about where the odds truly lie.
Kane is likely leaving Spurs because he wants to taste success in the Premier League and possibly the Champions League. He’s also going to be leading the attack for England at Euro 2024 and World Cup 2026. That leaves no time for him to be playing in an NFL season that conflicts with the Premier League schedule.
Old but gold?
Before I say who I believe has the best shot I want to touch upon some of the older players.
Modric will turn 38 years old this September and is a starting midfielder for Real Madrid. While he’s expected to be phased out, he'll most likely stick with Real Madrid. But he’s never shown any interest in anything tied to American football. His teammate Karim Benzema just accepted a nine-digit amount to play in Saudi Arabia, so there’s not much an NFL team can offer him.
As for Ronaldo and Messi, they’re going to make unfathomable amounts of money most likely in Saudi Arabia in the next few years, and no NFL team would ever be able to offer them enough to even entice them given salary cap rules. That’s not to mention the fact that Ronaldo may face some legal issues if he were to return to the United States, so he’s not even worth contemplating.
Which other soccer stars may bolt?
Lastly, let's talk about Neymar. At first I scoffed at that name as well, but then I thought about it. He’s 31 years old but has dealt with a lot of injuries and may not have many years left in the game. More importantly, he’s also an NFL fan.
In fact, he came to America for the Super Bowl in 2015 and took part in a field goal challenge. He kicked a 60-yard bomb with a soccer ball, but more impressively connected on a 50-yard field goal. Granted it wasn’t with the pressure or rushed conditions of an NFL game, but it’s an impressive feat nonetheless.
While I doubt he’s going to do anything to cost himself a shot at World Cup 2026, or walk away from a mega-million dollar deal with PSG, Neymar is the one player I could see being enough of a showman to try this within the next two years. While it’s not a great bet, of the options on the board he’s likely the best bet.