All-Star pitcher Jeff Samardzija thought he might be a New England Patriot

Rob Bradford
July 15, 2014 - 11:29 am

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's worked out pretty well for Athletics pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The All-Star righty -- who was just recently traded from his first professional team, the Cubs -- has carved a nice seven-year big league career to date, currently totaling a 2.78 ERA in 19 starts this season. But, as he recalled, the path could have very easily led him to Foxboro instead of Wrigley. Samardzija was a highly-touted two-sport athlete at Notre Dame, playing wide receiver for the Irish along with his stint as a pitcher for the school's baseball team. He was so good that most viewed the 6-foot-5 wideout as a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft if he chose to go that route. With the connection of former Patriots offensive coordinator/then-Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, some dots were being connected as the '06 college season wound down. "Well, Charlie Weis was the offensive coordinator for the Patriots for their Super Bowl runs for a number of years, so he just brought the whole Patriots€™ offense to Notre Dame and we started running that for a couple of years," Samardzjia said. "Where I was projected to go in the draft was a little earlier than where the Patriots were picking, obviously their perennial 30, 31, 32 pick. I was hoping to be a little before that. "The word from coach and other guys was that they were going to try and trade up to try and get me based on the fact it would be a seamless transition into their offense considering I already ran it. That was about all I heard, but obviously it never got to that point." Having been drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the '06 MLB draft, resulting in a five-year deal with Chicago, Samardzija told every NFL team not to bother drafting him in '07. The result was a solid career in baseball, and the Patriots picking Brandon Meriweather with the 24th overall selection.