Marvin Bracy hasn’t played a football game in more than five years. But after sprinting at the Rio Olympics, he has returned (at least for now) to the team sport.
Bracy, a former Florida State wide receiver, is at a 35-player rookie tryout camp with the Carolina Panthers this weekend. The team has three open roster spots at the moment.
If Bracy doesn’t make the Panthers roster, he may try elsewhere, even in the Canadian Football League, he said in March, before settling on returning to track. Bracy did race in three track meets in April.
“If I have to make a choice, I’m going to stick with the gridiron, if I have that opportunity,” Bracy said at FSU’s pro day in March. “But if not, if track is what I’ve got to do, it’s what I’ve got to do, because I’ve got family to take care of.”
The Panthers camp comes nearly nine months after Bracy finished 11th in the 100m at the Rio Games. He snagged the last spot on the Olympic 100m team over veterans Mike Rodgers and Tyson Gay at trials last June.
“[Medaling at the Olympics] would have made the decision a hell of a lot harder,” Bracy said of switching back to football, according to the Charlotte Observer. “But I wanted to get back on the field for so long now.”
Bracy said at FSU’s pro day in March that he tossed and turned over his decision to leave school in 2013 and pursue a pro track career. He remembered thinking it was the wrong decision as he merged onto Interstate 10 in Tallahassee four years ago.
Bracy never played a down for the Seminoles, redshirting his freshman year in 2012. He missed spring 2013 practice with a hamstring injury before turning pro.
“I won’t say I regret it, leaving, but I always had that what-if factor going on in my head,” Bracy said at FSU’s pro day, where he was told he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds (he also believed he ran a quicker 40 but wasn’t given the time). “I just told myself I couldn’t live with the decision of not knowing what it could have been [in football]. If I come out here, and I fail, or if I get a tryout with a team and I fail, then I can at least sleep knowing that, OK, you tried, and it just wasn’t for you. You know, track is your calling, whatever, whatever. If it works out, and I become one of the greatest players to ever play [football], I can say, well, I had the courage to go out there and give it a shot.”
About 40 Olympians have gone on to play in the NFL. Patriots safety Nate Ebner and former Lions running back Jahvid Best competed in Rio in rugby and track, respectively.
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