Usain Bolt says he received offers to play wide receiver in the NFL (video)

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The world’s fastest man as a football player? It nearly happened, Usain Bolt revealed to Dan Patrick this morning.

Bolt did not identify which teams, but said that he had been contacted about the possibility of playing wide receiver in the NFL.

“I’ve never really thought about going,” Bolt said, “but I’ve gotten offers and people have asked me.”

Bolt prefers sprinting because it is non-contact, with the exception of a rare Segway accident.

“I used to watch [football] when I was younger, and the hits that the guys used to take…I know that it is not as bad now, but the hits that the guys would take kind of turned me off,” Bolt said.

There is precedent for Olympic sprinters becoming NFL wide receivers. Most notably, 1964 Olympic 100m champion “Bullet Bob” Hayes went on to win a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bolt’s biggest sprinting rival, 2004 Olympic 100m champion Justin Gatlin, did answer the call when contacted by the NFL. In 2007, while serving his doping suspension, he had tryouts with the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans, and went to minicamp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he stopped playing before the preseason started.

“I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore,” Gatlin said to NBC in a pre-Olympic interview. “[Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden] respected me. He didn’t say I would regret it or anything. There was a big learning curve for me. It wasn’t like I was going to be on the field when the preseason came.”

Gruden, who exclusively referred to Gatlin as “Gold Medal,” played Gatlin at wide receiver. But Gatlin wonders if he would have had more success at safety, the position he preferred in high school.

“I don’t know,” Gatlin said. “But I do know I would have missed track and field.”

MORE: Usain Bolt discusses viral photo on TODAY

Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter passes away

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

Grieving Mikaela Shiffrin returns to World Cup Alpine action with fourth reindeer at stake

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The traditional World Cup Alpine skiing season opener last month in Soelden, Austria, was an emotional one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, was in declining health in the days leading up to the race, making Shiffrin wonder if she should head home instead of staying in Soelden. Condron was especially close to Shiffrin, helping to take care of her soon after birth.

Condron passed away Oct. 22, four days before the Soelden giant slalom, at age 98.

“Polly loved sports,” Condron’s obituary said. “She was an avid bowler in her younger years and enjoyed playing tennis and skiing. Few people know that she excelled at ping pong, had a killer serve, gave up very few games and played into her 90s.”

Condron was able to see Shiffrin in person at World Cup races in Killington, Vt. The World Cup will return next weekend to Killington, which has just passed its FIS inspection.

Shiffrin finished second in Soelden’s giant slalom to an upstart rival, 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson. Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the giant slalom, but she hasn’t won in Soelden since 2014.

In the slalom, Shiffrin is more dominant. She won eight of nine World Cup races last year, losing only to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and won her fourth straight world championship despite battling illness. The last time Shiffrin finished worse than second in the technical discipline was in the 2018 Olympics, when she uncharacteristically faltered and finished fourth.

Saturday’s race in Levi, Finland, is a slalom. Shiffrin has won three of the last five races in Levi, which means she also has three reindeer  Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru. She can win a fourth on Saturday.

The men also have a slalom this weekend in Levi, racing Sunday.

Both runs for each event stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET, with the Olympic Channel also carrying the second runs each day.

MORE: Alpine skiing TV schedule

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