Johnny Quinn

Former Bills, Packers wide receiver makes U.S. Olympic Team

Leave a comment

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.”

source: Getty Images
Johnny Quinn (right) takes part in the traditional bike ride at Packers training camp. (Getty Images)

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 41 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.

Lolo Jones, Lauryn Williams join list of Summer/Winter Olympians

Atlanta Olympic venues, 20 years later (photos)

In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, people play in the fountains shaped by the Olympic rings at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. This was the hub of the games, a gathering spot for sponsor tents and nightly concerts. Tragedy struck midway through the Olympics when a deadly bombing ripped through the park, but it emerged afterward as a catalyst of downtown development, now surrounded by the hugely popular Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a giant ferris wheel. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
AP
Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) — Twenty years after the Olympics were held in Atlanta, some remnants of that improbable summer remain a highly visible part of the city’s landscape, while others quickly faded away.

Centennial Olympic Park and Turner Field — known as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996 — were the greatest legacy of those games, though the latter faces an uncertain future after just 20 seasons as home of baseball’s Atlanta Braves, who are moving to a new suburban stadium next year.

Other venues barely outlasted the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, while still more failed to live up to their intended purpose.

A look at Atlanta’s Olympic facilities two decades later:

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC STADIUM: The 85,000-seat main stadium was site of athletics (Michael Johnson‘s world record, Carl Lewis‘ farewell) and both the opening and closing ceremonies (Muhammad Ali‘s poignant lighting of the torch). Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the longtime owner of the Braves, Ted Turner. It hosted both the World Series and the All-Star Game during its early years, but the Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium.

This photo combo shows a July 19, 1996 file photo of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony at Centennial Olympic Stadium, top, and a Friday July 15, 2016 photo of fireworks after an Atlanta Braves baseball game at what is now named Turner Field in Atlanta. The 85,000-seat main stadium was the site of athletics and both the opening and closing ceremonies. Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the Braves' owner, Ted Turner. The Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File, John Bazemore)

GEORGIA DOME: A divider transformed this 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas — one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men’s basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America’s first victory in women’s team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017.

In this Monday, July 18, 2016 photo, a statue of a gymnast stands between the Georgia Dome, right, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games gymnastics and basketball events and current home of the Atlanta Falcons football team, and the Falcons' new stadium under construction at left. A divider transformed the Georgia Dome, a 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas, one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men's basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America's first victory in women's team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK: This was the hub of the games, a gathering spot for sponsor tents and nightly concerts. Tragedy struck midway through the Olympics when a deadly bombing ripped through the park, but it emerged afterward as a catalyst of downtown development, now surrounded by the hugely popular Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a giant Ferris wheel.

GEORGIA TECH AQUATIC CENTER: Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics.

In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, a diver stands on a diving board during practice at Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming events in Atlanta. Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

GEORGIA WORLD CONGRESS CENTER: One of the world’s largest convention centers (and even more sprawling today after a post-Games expansion), it was divided into five separate arenas during the Olympics, reducing the need for wasteful new venues for fencing, handball, judo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. That became a model for future Olympics.

ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY STADIUM: Site of baseball during the Olympics, the former home of the Atlanta Braves served out the 1996 season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field.

In this Wednesday, July 20, 2016 photo, visitors stand next a piece of the outfield wall of what used to be Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games baseball event, and former home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta. The stadium served out the 1996 baseball season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

OMNI COLISEUM: Just a week before Atlanta Stadium came down, this facility used for volleyball during the Olympics met the same fate. Philips Arena now occupies the site.

GEORGIA INTERNATIONAL HORSE PARK: Equestrian, modern pentathlon and the first Olympic mountain bike competition were held at the park about 30 miles east of Atlanta. It remains an equestrian and events center, with horse and mountain bike trails plus an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course open to the public.

STONE MOUNTAIN PARK ARCHERY CENTER AND VELODROME: Temporary facilities for archery and track cycling came down shortly after the Olympics. The site is now part of a songbird and habitat trail.

STONE MOUNTAIN TENNIS CENTER: A permanent tennis facility built in a corner of Stone Mountain Park quickly became a money loser and now sits idle, weeds growing through the outer courts and the scoreboard in disrepair.

SANFORD STADIUM (Athens, Georgia): The home of the Georgia Bulldogs football team hosted soccer finals, including the U.S. memorably winning the first women’s gold. The stadium known for its famous hedges (which were taken down during the Olympics and then re-planted) has been expanded to hold more than 92,000.

ALEXANDER MEMORIAL COLISEUM: Site of boxing in 1996, Georgia Tech’s basketball arena underwent a massive renovation that completely gutted the interior of the building. It reopened in 2012 as gleaming McCamish Pavilion.

HERNDON STADIUM: Perhaps the saddest legacy of the games, this 15,000-seat stadium was used during the filming of the movie “We Are Marshall” but was abandoned after Morris Brown College ran into financial difficulties. Gutted by vandals, it is now covered in graffiti and piles of trash.

LAKE LANIER (Gainesville, Georgia): This man-made lake still has its rowing facilities, which have been used for major competitions over the last two decades. This year, it hosted an Olympic qualifier for Rio.

WOLF CREEK SHOOTING COMPLEX: Some facilities remain at this suburban venue now known as the Tom Lowe Shooting Grounds, but it no longer holds major international events.

ATLANTA BEACH: Located south of the city, this venue was site of the first Olympic beach volleyball tournament. It was renamed Clayton County International Park, with the main stadium now used for concerts and other events though the park still includes several beach volleyball courts, as well as a water park, lake and biking trails.

GOLDEN PARK (Columbus, Georgia): The 5,000-seat stadium, about a two-hour drive from Atlanta, was used for the first Olympic softball competition. It served for years as home to minor league baseball, but the last of those teams, the Columbus Catfish, left after the 2008 season. The stadium remains but no longer has a major tenant.

OTHER VENUES: Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum (volleyball preliminaries), Georgia State’s GSU Sports Arena (badminton), Clark-Atlanta’s Panther Stadium (field hockey) and Morehouse’s Forbes Arena (basketball preliminaries) are still used by their respective colleges. In fact, Panther Stadium now holds the athletics track used during the Olympics. The Ocoee Whitewater Center in Tennessee (whitewater canoeing) and Wassaw Sound near coastal Savannah, Georgia (sailing) were temporary venues. Preliminary soccer matches were held in four stadiums outside Atlanta. Birmingham’s Legion Field, Orlando’s Citrus Bowl and Washington’s RFK Stadium are still in use, while Miami’s Orange Bowl was torn down to make way for a new baseball stadium.

Baseball, softball, 4 more sports to learn Olympic fate next week

Olympic baseball
Getty Images
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Five sports, including surfing and skateboarding, moved a step closer to being included in the Tokyo 2020 Games after being described as “a dynamic and exciting” package by the IOC.

Skateboarding, surfing, karate, sports climbing and baseball/softball were all recommended for inclusion by the IOC. An Olympic program commission report released on Thursday said the five are a blend of the traditional and emerging, youth-focused events, and all have international and local appeal.

The IOC will make the final decision on the five sports in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 3, two days before the opening ceremony of the 2016 Games.

In assessing the case for inclusion, the commission considered gender equality, youth appeal and their legacy value.

The inclusion of the new sports would add 18 events and 474 athletes, with equal numbers of women and men for all sports except baseball/softball, because softball teams have 15 players, whilst baseball teams have 24.

The report said the new sports in Tokyo would not threaten the inclusion of existing Olympic sports or be binding on future host cities.

Baseball and softball, which are making a combined bid to return, were dropped after the 2008 Beijing Games. Their hopes for inclusion are boosted by their popularity in Japan.

MORE: MLB players may balk at Olympic baseball