SG Austin Rivers taunt triggers enraged response from ex Rams DL

The history of the NBA and NFL has seldom witnessed a successful player crossing over from one sport to the other. That did not stop SG Austin Rivers from taunting NFL players by stating 30 NBA players could flourish in the NFL. Not did it stop this enraged rebuttal from a former Rams defensive lineman:
Minnesota Timberwolves, Austin Rivers
Minnesota Timberwolves, Austin Rivers / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Ah yes, the firestorm drill that happens when one professional athlete sounds off with what seems like a benign statement, but after the dust settles becomes raging hurricane of opinions and scenarios that will never be proven to satisfy anyone's satisfaction. What do I mean? I'm referring to the rather volatile statement made by former Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Austin Rivers.

So what did he say that was so controversial?

In a recent episode of the Pat McAfee Show, Rivers claimed that you could find 30 players in the NBA right now who could all successfully compete in the NFL. But you could not find 30 players in the NFL who could successfully compete in the NBA.

While that was not intended to be anything more than a statement by Austin Rivers defending and supporting the athleticism of the National Basketball Association players who must face a long and demanding 82-game season, versus the shorter 17-game season of the NFL, that is not how everyone interpreted that statement.

NFL Players react

Former long-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy did not sit silently to that claim by Rivers, and immediately lashed out at Austin Rivers for introducing the subject to public debate:

NFL WR Randy Moss was taken aback by Rivers' claim:

Another NFL legend who did not take the matter sitting down is former LA Rams DE Chris Long. While Long chose a more logical and systematic rebuttal, he launched a series of 'Tweets,' (can we still call them that?) to refute Austin Rivers broad brushstroke claim to backup his points.

While the NBA season is much longer, the NFL season is far more physical and intense, and that point was far too readily glossed over by Rivers in his original assertion.

Of course, other former NFL players chime in as well. The NFL training camp is unlike any other sport in terms of intensity, physicality, and sheer demands placed on individual players:

If you want the full argument, you can check out Chris Long's full rebuttal on the YouTube video embedded below:

Can professional sports players excel in two different sports? While it has been done in the past, there have been mixed results. We know that one of the greatest basketball legends to play in the NBA, Michael Jordan, tried to cross over to MLB without much success.

I recall that NFL running back Bo Jackson played eight seasons in MLB. We also know that NFL defensive back Deion Sanders played seven seasons in MLB.

In all three cases, the players from one professional sport chose the non-contact sport of professional baseball as the other sport to compete in. The only player in modern times to attempt to crossover from the NBA to the NFL was Mark Vital. Of course, he played in just three NBA games before attempting to play for the Seattle Seahawks as a tight end.

While collegiate athletes often compete in multiple sports, the specialization of professional sports, particularly those sports with overlapping seasons, is simply too great to bridge the gap. Like many debates on social media, you can take up your positions and argue to your heart's content. But in the end, this debate will be more speculation that factual comparison.

As always, thanks for read