Packers Kicker Mason Crosby Once Made an MLB Player Quit His College Football Dream

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(Photo: Getty Images)

While Aaron Rodgers and his incredible late completion to Jared Cook will get most of the credit, the Green Bay Packers' 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday to advance to the NFC championship game would not have been possible if not for the big leg of kicker Mason Crosby.

The 10-year veteran hit three field goals of 51 yards or more in the last two minutes—two that actually counted, thanks to a failed attempt to ice Crosby by Dallas coach Jason Garrett—to give his team the lead, including the game-winner with no time on the clock.

Long before Crosby was using his impressive-for-a-kicker size—he's 6'2" and 212 pounds—to win playoff games for the Packers, those dimensions helped change the career path of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

The 28-year-old hit a career-high 13 homers last season, but a decade ago, he had dreams of playing Big 12 football.

Nieuwenhuis was a high school running back in Denver, and famously rushed for 267 yards in the Colorado Class 2A championship in his senior year—during a snowstorm.

He was recruited by the University of Colorado, where Crosby played.

"I love football to death, but I wasn’t sure how big I was going to get," Nieuwenhuis said back in 2010.

During his visit to Boulder, he met a rude awakening that steered him to a career on the diamond.

"I was on my recruiting trip to Colorado and I was down on the field when all the players were coming out," Nieuwenhuis told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in May. They slowly started to trickle out and the first guy came out. I'm 6-1, 6-2, maybe 185 pounds at this point and this guy comes running out on the field and I'm like, 'Wow, this is a big guy.' Then five minutes later, I see him kicking field goals. It was Mason Crosby. I didn't know him at the time, but when I found out he was a kicker it was kind of an eye-opener. Then I saw the rest of the team come out and I was like, 'All right, maybe this isn't for me.'"

Bo Jackson will tell you Nieuwenhuis made the right call.