Pick Six: Top NFL players turned fighters

Vikings DE Ray Edwards told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he plans to pursue a career in boxing if there is a lockout. And the good news for Edwards is that he will only need to last about 40 seconds in the ring to be considered a bigger success than Johnnie Morton.

And Morton was one of the most successful guys to go from gridiron to squared circle. Because let’s be honest, when you  consider guys like Morton and Mark Gastineau’s ill-fated boxing careers, the list is rather slim.

But no pain, no gain as we move forward with the top six guys to go from the NFL gridiron to the ring.

6. Bob Sapp
The closest Sapp ever came to being a credible NFL player was defeating William “The Refrigerator” Perry in a made-for-TV event on FX. But the good news for Sapp is that at least he’s big in Japan as an MMA fighter.

5. Matt Mitrione
Mitrione made his MMA debut by beating former NFLer Marcus Jones in the “Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights” finale. And he took down Kimbo Slice — who I consider the MMA version of Tony Mandarich — in his second fight. Mitrione recently improved to 4-0 and looks to have a bright future in the sport with a possible future match with Cheick Kongo looming.

4. Brendan Schaub
Schaub had a forgettable stint on the Bills practice squad, but is making a name for himself in the UFC. Schaub was a runner-up on the “Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights.” He is currently 7-1 with an upcoming fight against Mirko Filipović in UFC 128 on March 19. Or UFC CXXVIII to those of us who used Roman numerals too often during Super Bowl week.

3. Alonzo Highsmith
Former Cowboys DE Ed “Too Tall” Jones gets all of the credit – and a Geico commercial – for making the leap from the NFL to boxing. But Highsmith went 27-1-2 as a professional boxer. Not too bad.

2. The Rock/Brock Lesnar/Goldberg
Alright, all three had dubious NFL careers and excelled in fake fighting. The Rock in the WWF, Lesnar in the WWF and UFC, and Goldberg in WCW/WWF (and he does color commentary for MMA). But these three are likely the most recognizable and successful guys from the squared circle in recent memory. And really, Goldberg’s 173 consecutive wins should rank up there with the Lakers’ 33-game winning streak, the undefeated 1972 Dolphins and the UConn women’s hoops team.

1. Apollo Creed
Sure, Creed might be a fictional character from “Rocky,” but the actor who played him — former Raiders LB Carl Weathers — certainly is not. And when discussing Rocky Balboa’s opponents, Creed is often overlooked as the baddest of the list that included Clubber Lang (how come he never got a rematch?) and Ivan Drago. But consider that Creed was five years older than Rocky and had never been knocked down in his previous 45 fights, then it’s pretty clear Creed in his prime was dominant.

And it’s also clear that I might have thought a little too much on that last point.

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