Jan. 19, 2007
CHICAGO (Ticker) - Notre Dame wide receiver Jeff Samardzija will take his talents to the baseball diamond rather than the football field.
Opting to pass up a chance at the NFL, Samardzija on Friday signed a five-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
ESPN 1000 in Chicago reported Samardzija's deal is worth less than pitcher Mark Prior's first contract with the Cubs. When Prior was selected second overall in 2001, his deal was worth $10.5 million.
The 6-5 Samardzija, who was expected to be selected in the middle of the first round in April's NFL draft, said his football career is over.
"Obviously, my decision means that I have played my last football game," Samardzija said. "That does mean I have lost my passion for the game. But, as much as it seemed like a real possibility last summer, I have concluded that playing two sports professionally is impossible.
"I understand that some people may be skeptical of my intentions. I cannot lie. Leaving football will not be easy. But playing baseball is my first love. It is what I want to do for a living."
A hard-throwing righthander, Samardzija was selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of last June's draft. He pitched for the Cubs' Class A affiliate at Boise in the Northwest League this past summer, where he went 1-1 with a 2.74 ERA in five games.
With excellent size and deceiving speed, Samardzija finished his final season at Notre Dame with 78 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games.