NFL Olympics: Antonio Gates boasts true basketball credentials

In the spirit of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, we're projecting which NFL players would be best suited to participate in 10 popular sports.

The NFL is full of players who claim to have supreme basketball abilities, but only a handful of them have legitimate credentials beyond high school hoops. Here are my top candidates:

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Gates initially attended Michigan State to play both football and basketball. Things didn't quite go as planned in East Lansing, and Gates eventually ended up at Kent State as solely a basketball player. During his time at Kent State, Gates led the Golden Flashes to back-to-back conference titles and a trip to the Elite Eight of the 2002 NCAA tournament. In his final season, he averaged 20.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Gonzalez played both football and basketball at the University of California. In 1994, he averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and helped propel the Golden Bears to the Sweet 16.

Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
Peppers was a key reserve on the North Carolina hoops team. He provided valuable minutes for the 1999-2000 Tar Heels who made it all the way to the Final Four. The following season, he averaged 7.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
Graham was a four-year contributor on the University of Miami hoops team. In fact, he didn't play a down of football for the Hurricanes until his basketball eligibility had expired. (Graham played his lone season of football while taking graduate classes at Miami.) On the hardwood, he averaged 4.0 points and 5.9 rebounds during his senior season. His scoring average would've been a little higher if he didn't struggle so much at the free-throw line. His 40 percent average from the foul line would cause Shaq to shake his head.

Honorable mention

Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens
These two former Philadelphia Eagles teammates are both currently looking for work in the NFL, but they each have solid basketball credentials. McNabb played in a Final Four as a backup on the Syracuse hoops team, while Owens was a part-time starter on the basketball team at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

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