After years of angling and declarations, former NBA star and three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion Nate Robinson tried out Monday for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. The chances of Robinson making the Seahawks roster seem slim, given his lack of professional football experience, but the former New York Knicks point guard played college football and has a versatile athletic background.
The 5-foot-9-inch Robinson was a three-sport star at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, earning a football scholarship at Washington and appearing in 13 games, starting six at cornerback before devoting his time to fully to basketball. He totaled 34 tackles and two interceptions in the 2002 Huskies season. The 32-year-old also has, or had, a vertical leap of more than 40 inches.
Robinson's frame could hold him back from playing cornerback in the NFL. Pro-Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman is 6 feet 3 inches, and Brandon Browner comes in at 6 feet 4 inches. It's somewhat rare to find a corner shorter than 5 feet 10 inches.
The competition is also expected to be fierce, particularly for one of the best secondaries in the league. There are 10 cornerbacks currently listed on the Seahawks roster, but only nine total defensive backs made the 2015 roster. The Seahawks didn't select a defensive back in the most recent draft, but all but one of the corners trying out for the 53-man team have at least a year experience.
Robinson, a Seattle native, discussed his plans to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL in a March interview with the Lead Sports.
“I haven’t played in 11 years, 12 years, but I know how to tackle. I how to play, I know how to hit, I know how to catch, I can get picks, I can get deflections … I know it all,” Robinson said. “If somebody gave me a real opportunity, I know I could play.”
Fast-forward 14 years and eight NBA teams later to Monday, and an opportunity was granted by the Seahawks — almost five years after Robinson first reached out to head coach Pete Carroll on Twitter.
Back in August 2011, the NBA was headed toward a labor lockout that would delay the start of the 2011-12 season, and Robinson wasn’t under contract with any team after the Oklahoma City Thunder waived him.
Robinson tweeted at Carroll several times before the coach told him “see you at practice at 1:30. bring your cleats.” Nothing came of the interaction, and Robinson signed with the Golden State Warriors in January 2012. Carroll also tried to recruit Robinson back when he was USC’s head coach.
Seattle’s unlikely to sign Robinson right away, but the two sides will “stay in touch,” according to the Washington Post.
For Carroll, this isn’t the first time he’s explored the talent market outside of the NFL’s typical avenues. He reached out to LeBron James during the NBA’s lockout and also on Twitter, but again, nothing came to fruition.
Carroll is also known for giving some players opportunities they otherwise would not have been afforded. In 2012, Seattle invited former standout high school linebacker Brian Banks, who was wrongly incarcerated for rape for five years and had verbally committed to USC, to a tryout. Banks eventually signed with the Atlanta Falcons in April 2013 but was released four months later.