During his college days, Jeff Samardzija was known more for being a dominant All-American wide receiver for Notre Dame than for playing baseball.
But instead of pursuing an NFL career, Samardzija decided to sign with the Cubs after they drafted him in 2006.
Now, nearing the 10-year anniversary of that decision, the Giants starter spoke to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi about picking baseball over football and what went into that decision.
"This is a football country. I usually get asked in a 'You're an idiot' manner about why I decided to play baseball. People love football, man. They just can't understand having the ability to do it and not do it. It blows their minds," Samardzija said. "I made the decision because when I went and played baseball, I loved it. I didn't know I had that love for the game. But then I went back for my senior year of football [after playing briefly in the Cubs farm system during the summer of 2006]. I was able to weigh the two right next to each other, and it really wasn't even close."
Surprisingly, Samardzija revealed that he didn't like the way he was treated in the football environment.
"I like how you're treated in baseball. You're treated like a man. Show up on your time. It's your career. They don't hold your hand as much as football. That always bugged me about football -- meetings and things like that. I know what I'm doing wrong. You don't need to reiterate it to me that I'm [messing] up," Samardzija said.
He then went on to relay stories he's heard from people in the NFL.
"From what I've heard, individuality and free-thinking is frowned upon [in the NFL]. Being your own man is not what they want. I think they want people to fall in line, toe the line and not ask questions on why they're toeing the line. Talking to some buddies, I know a couple guys have been told they're too smart for the NFL. In that aspect, [baseball] was the right choice for me. I felt like I had a higher ceiling in baseball and more hunger for it," Samardzija said.
The 33-year-old is entering the third year of a five-year, $90 million contract he signed with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. Last year, he went 9-15 with a 4.42 ERA in 207.2 innings. He struck out 205 batters and finished with a 6.4 strikeout to walk ratio, the fourth best in all of baseball.