When the Cleveland Browns hold their voluntary workouts on Monday, reserve linebacker Brandon McGee won’t be in attendance. Not because he’s a diva, or because he’s injured, or feels he just doesn’t need the work—he’s going to be in South Carolina, doing his best impression of Junior Griffey for the Greenville Drive, a Single-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. An outfielder in the Boston Red Sox’s minor-league system, the 5-foot-11-inch, 225-pound McGee plans to fully commit to football once the Browns’ first minicamp starts April 29, and he’s also ready to report to Berea earlier if need be, but he’s going to put in as much time he can on the diamond in the meantime, with hopes of being multi-sport professional athlete.
As a rookie in 2013, McGee, a reserve inside linebacker, played special teams in eight games before he suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Since then, McGee has reportedly been hitting in batting cages, lifting weights and running—he isn’t allowed to throw. Perhaps the most encouraging fact: He has been using agility drills recommended by the Browns and studying film of new coach Mike Pettine’s defense in between taking southpaw cuts at the plate.
“[Pettine] thought it was awesome,” Magee said of the desire to play two sports. “It kind of surprised me coming from an NFL coach, but he was fully supportive of what I was doing. It felt great because growing up, you have a lot of people that say don’t do this, don’t do that. To have a new coach who hardly even knows me say, ‘Congratulations on playing in the NFL and playing pro baseball, that’s a huge accomplishment,’ that was huge for me.”
A pure athlete, the Tampa Bay Rays claimed McGee 863rd overall in 2008, followed by the Oakland A’s at No. 646 in 2011 and Boston at 721 in 2012. According to FOX Sports Arizona, Magee called baseball his “first love,” but he batted .103 in 27 collegiate games, collecting just three hits. Coming out of the Arizona State University, he went undrafted in the NFL’s selection weekend in 2013 despite racking up 112 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions, 1 pass deflection.
“If a team told me it’s time to focus on one, I would really sit down and consider that. But right now, I have the blessings of both organizations to do what I like to do. It’s a dream come true. Who else can say, ‘I just went to training camp, I played in an NFL season, and right after that, I went to spring training with the World Series champs, with the Red Sox? I’m in the cage talking to David Ortiz and [Mike] Napoli, you know, legends. I’m living the dream.”