Cam Newton’s Draymond Green example that NFL toughness is different

Tony Nguyen | Golden State Warriors
May 17, 2024

Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors are currently in the midst of what figures to be a crossroads offseason for the future direction of the franchise. The Warriors were unceremoniously sent home in the Play-In game by the Sacramento Kings this year, and Green let his notoriously short temper get the best of him on several occasions during the 2023-24 season, resulting in multiple suspensions.

In sports circles in recent weeks, one of the primary topics of conversation revolves around whether there are any NBA players who could find success playing in the NFL, or vice versa. One person who has an opinion on the matter is none other than former NFL MVP Cam Newton, who recently took to his own 4th & 1 W/ Cam Newton podcast to reference Green’s experience playing in the 2011 Michigan State football spring game as an example for his argument.

“It’s a different type of tough, it’s a contact sport,” said Newton, per Cam Newton on YouTube. “Man, you would get your block knocked off. I seen this take I couldn’t wait to talk about it, but we seen what Draymond Green, a labeled ‘tough guy’ in the NBA, seeing what he was doing and granted, that was when Michigan State really wasn’t really good, let’s just keep it a buck.”

Newton also referenced other NBA players and how they might fare on the gridiron.

“Now, when I talk about could LeBron play at Alabama, could Zion (Williamson) play at Alabama, some of those guys, like Anthony Edwards could they play at a Power 5 SEC, and be a threat,” said Newton. “I’m talking about somebody that you’ve got to prepare for. Now granted these people are 6’7 plus. I don’t even know if LeBron would be playing receiver let’s just put it like that. His body frame is what Jadeveon Clowney is, it’s what JJ Watt is, you see what I’m saying?”

Could NBA players find success in the NFL?

There are certain NBA players such as LeBron James, Lu Dort, Zion Williamson, and others who certainly fit the body archetype of players at some positions in the NFL. In general, basketball is considered to be a more “skilled” sport than football, meaning that it would probably take a football player a lot longer to prepare to play basketball at a high level than the other way around. However, there is definitely something to be said about the sheer toughness it takes to play at the NFL level.

Newton seemed to take a down the middle approach when discussing the topic on his podcast.

“What I will tell you is there is not 30 basketball players that can step into the National Football League and be a threat, they can play but we’re talking about a threat,” said Newton. “I also will agree with you by saying there is definitely not 30 football players that can step into the NBA and be a threat, not a player, could they make a team? Yes.”

In any case, don’t expect basketball or football stars to ever fully agree on this topic.