Johnny Quinn, a former offseason wide receiver with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers, is the latest football player to make a U.S. Olympic Team.
Quinn was named as a push athlete on the USA-2 four-man sled Sunday night.
He signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent out of North Texas in 2007 and was cut three days before training camp. He played in four preseason games with the Packers in 2008, catching four passes for 32 yards, before being cut.
He played in the Canadian Football League with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2009, tearing an ACL in the last game of the regular season. The Roughriders lost the Grey Cup, 28-27, to the Montreal Alouettes on a time-expiring field goal.
Quinn rehabbed at four-time Olympic champion sprinter Michael Johnson‘s athletic performance center in his native Texas but was cut by the Canadian team nonetheless.
“My football career didn’t go the way I anticipated,” said Quinn, who also sprinted on the North Texas track team. “I knew I still wanted to compete. They look for former football players with a track background [in bobsled].”
His football agent doubled as the agent for 2002 Olympic silver medalist bobsledder Todd Hays, a fellow Texan and converted college football player. Quinn began bobsledding in the 2010-11 season and became a regular member of U.S. driver Nick Cunningham‘s four-man crew this season.
“I’ve been on the other side of the fence when you get your name not called,” Quinn, 30, said. “I’ve learned getting cut three times that life moves on. I am very pleased, though, that my name was called and I get to represent the United States.”
The only NFL player to previously compete in a Winter Olympics was Herschel Walker, according to sports-reference.com. The Heisman Trophy winner finished seventh in two-man bobsled in 1992.
The other 40 NFL players to compete in an Olympics did so in a Summer Olympics — 34 in track and field, six in wrestling and one in handball.
Former 49ers receiver Renaldo Nehemiah competed in bobsled and track and field, holding the 110m hurdles world record for a time, but never competed in an Olympics.
Nehemiah and Bears and Raiders wide receiver Willie Gault were set to compete in the 1980 Olympics in track and field before the U.S. boycott. Gault, too, dabbled in bobsled but never competed in the Winter Games.
Of course, the most successful NFL players in the Summer Olympics were Cowboys receiver Bob Hayes, who won a Super Bowl title and Olympic gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m relay in 1964, and Jim Thorpe.
Thorpe, born in 1887, won the Olympic decathlon and pentathlon in 1912 and began playing in the NFL in 1920.