Former NFL receiver Devin Funchess now is playing pro basketball

Austin Rivers, a former NBA player serving as an ESPN basketball analyst, made the comment this week that 30 NBA players could play in the NFL but 30 NFL players could not play in the NBA. Maybe. Maybe not. But a former NFL receiver is giving pro basketball a go.

Devin Funchess hasn't played an NFL game since 2019. He hasn't been in an NFL training camp since 2022.

His NFL career is over, but his professional basketball career is just beginning.

Funchess is playing for the Caribbean Storm Llaneros in the Professional Colombia Basketball league (Baloncesto Profesional Colombiano). He has a deal for the team's 28-game season.

He is the first former NFL player to sign a professional basketball contract, per Kassidy Hill of the team website.

"I told my grandfather [as a kid], I said, 'Man, I'm going to go win the Super Bowl, and then I'm going straight to basketball," Funchess told Hill.

It was during COVID that Funchess renewed his interest in becoming a pro basketball player. While home in Florida, Funchess' cousin, McDonald's All-American Aden Holloway, was dribbling the basketball in the driveway. Funchess had not picked up a basketball in years for risk of injury, but Holloway convinced Funchess to join him.

"I just started dribbling and once you start dribbling, you just get addicted to it," Funchess said. "That's what all the greats in that sport say: Like, you've got to do it every day; you've got to do it every day and make sure you fall in love with that.

"So, I was just doing that to kind of cope with something that I never had to deal with—being away with football. . . . Then, it was just like, this was an outlet for me to think of all the different possibilities."

When Funchess was young, he told his grandfather, James Hester, that he wanted to win a Super Bowl, play professional basketball and become a farmer. He never won a Super Bowl in his four seasons with the Panthers and one with the Colts, but he did play in one in the 2015 season.

And a basketball career has become a reality.

In September, he plans to participate in open tryouts with the Los Angeles Clippers' G-league team, the Ontario Clippers, and the Charlotte Hornets' G-league team, the Greensboro Swarm.