Shaq Thompson tried his hand at professional baseball back in 2012. It did not go well. After the Sox took an 18th round flier on the five-star football recruit in 2012, Thompson took 39 at bats in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, and struck out in all but two of them. It may be the worst career in the history of the game.
Thompson, though, is likely not too hung up on his GCL struggles. Last April, he was selected 25th overall in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers. This Sunday, he'll take the field in Santa Clara for Super Bowl 50.
For some sports fans, being knocked out of the playoffs by team X, Y, or Z gives you a new favorite. If your guys had to be beaten, you want them to at least have been beaten by the best, right? That's for some of them. For the vast majority, it works a bit differently. The Denver Broncos beat the Patriots. Even if they didn't have age-old Tom Brady rival Peyton Manning at the helm trying to perhaps end a career of postseason struggles on the highest possible note, that would be enough for Patriots fans to root for whoever's up against them almost as vigorously as they would for the Patriots.
I'm not going to pretend Shaq Thompson holds any sort of love for the Boston area based on a month or so spent in the Red Sox organization. I'm not sure he even set foot in the city from the day he was drafted to the day he made the excellent decision to go all-in on football. If Thompson had any sort of role in the long story of the Red Sox and their fanbase, it was as an anecdote that was as amusing as it was sad right up until he hit the big time in the NFL, leaving the whole situation a lot easier to understand.
But there are hundreds of prospects who show up, put in a couple years of work that goes nowhere, and then surrender. Hundreds of names forgotten. Matt Price, Shannon Wilkerson, Mike Adams, Matty Ott, all here, then gone, and largely forgotten. But even if it was for unfortunate reasons, Shaq Thompson stood out. He's the guy that struck out 37 times in 39 at bats. And now he's the Red Sox prospect heading to the Super Bowl. That the latter part is so positive just eases the depressing aspect of the first bit, making the whole thing a much more enjoyable story.
If we could add "avenged the Patriots in the Super Bowl and made Peyton Manning come up short once more" to that story? All the better.