Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

NFL Stars Who Excelled In Athletics

Posted on 14 May 2021 by Dami Adewale

On May 9, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf finished last in the second heat and 15th out of 17 competitors overall in a US Olympic trial.

Metcalf competed in the 100m dash and despite his position, still finished with an impressive time of 10.37 seconds.

The NFL values speed highly as evidenced by the 40 yard dash in the pre-draft combine.

Currently, the record 40 yard dash time is held by New York Giants wide receiver John Ross, who clocked in at 4.22 seconds in 2017.

This emphasis on speed has meant many of the NFL’s fastest have also pursued careers in track and field.

The Sports Gazette takes a look at five athletes who found success both in the NFL and athletics.

Jeff Demps

Former running back Jeff Demps only had one rushing attempt in the NFL, but the fact that it was for a 1st down shows his natural speed.

Now Demps competes across multiple events including the 60m, 100m and 200m dashes.

In 2012, he was added to the US Olympic roster as an injury replacement for Mike Rodgers.

Demps was a part of the 4x100m relay pool and helped the team to a time of 37.38 seconds in the preliminary second heat.

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This was the fastest time of the preliminary round and broke an American record that stood for 20 years.

The US would go on to win a silver medal at the London Olympics in the 4x100m race.

Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey featured instead of Demps and teammate Darvis Patton, but Demps still received a medal as part of the team.

However, the team was stripped of their medals after Gay confessed to using a banned substance.

Tyreek Hill

Hill, a Super Bowl champion with multiple pro bowl and all pro appearances, is well-renowned for his blistering speed.

Representing the US, he competed at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Barcelona, claiming the bronze medal in the 200m and the gold medal in the 4x100m.

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In 2012, Hill also clocked a 100m time of 10.19 seconds and a 200m time of 20.14 seconds.

The 200m time was one hundredth of a second off beating Roy Martin’s 1985 national high school record.

Hill’s 100m time was tied second for the fastest time by a junior in the 2012 season, bested by Great Britain’s Adam Gemili.

Marvin Bracy

Wide receiver Marvin Bracy is known more for his exploits on the track than on the NFL field, having only been a member of offseason/practice squads thus far.

A three-time gold medallist, he came first in the 2010 World Junior Championships 100m race as well as the 100m and 4x100m at the 2011 Pan American Junior Championships.

Bracy’s 100m personal best time of 9.93 ranks him 59th all time and makes him the 25th fastest male US sprinter in history.

In 2016, Bracy qualified for the US Olympic team by finishing third in team trials with a time of 9.98 in 100m.

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Jahvid Best

Jahvid Best was a gifted running back, selected in the first round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions in 2010.

He retired in 2013 after his release from the Lions, suffering multiple concussions during his NFL career which halted his progression.

Leading up to the 2016 USA Track and Field Championships, Best ran a wind aided time of 10.26 seconds in the 100m.

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He improved on this time by clocking 10.16 seconds at a university track meet in 2016.

This time meant Best qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he represented Saint Lucia, his father’s home country.

Other NFL stars turned sprinters have qualified for their nation’s Olympic teams but Best is the first who has actually competed, recording a time of 10.39 in Rio.

Marquise Goodwin

On April 16 2021, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin signed a contract with the Chicago Bears.

Goodwin is not only a track star, but also competes in field events including the long jump and triple jump.

In 2012, he made the US Olympic team in the long jump with a personal best of 8.33 metres.

This length would have secured Goodwin a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, beating Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford in the process.

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The aforementioned DK Metcalf gained the respect of many in athletics with his performance, including four time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon.

Boldon said: “He ran faster than just about everybody, myself included, thought he would run.”

Boldon also suggested that Metcalf’s success shows that NFL players should consider the track more often.

Those listed are evidence that there is a path for NFL athletes to become accomplished in the realm of track and field.

Read more from this writer here.