NFL Draft: Olympians who were drafted included Nos. 1, 2, 3 overall

Jahvid Best
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A total of 43 Olympians also played in the NFL, according to Olympedia and the OlyMADMen.

Some more Olympians were also drafted but never played in the regular season.

That list includes Carl Lewis, the nine-time Olympic champion who was taken in the 12th round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1984, before competing at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Lewis, who did not play football at the University of Houston, also never played in the NFL.

Other Olympians who played in the NFL weren’t drafted. Like Jim Thorpe, co-gold medalist at the first Olympic decathlon in Stockholm in 1912, who played in the NFL before the draft debuted in 1936.

But how many Olympians were drafted into and played NFL football? 23. That includes Nos. 1, 2 and 3 overall picks.

The only Olympian to be drafted first overall was Sam Francis, who placed fourth in the 1936 Berlin Olympic shot put. The following fall, as a running back for the University of Nebraska, he was runner-up in Heisman Trophy voting. The Philadelphia Eagles took him first in the next year’s draft, then traded him to the Chicago Bears. Francis played four NFL seasons before serving with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Johnny “Lam” Jones, the No. 2 overall pick in 1980 by the New York Jets, played five NFL seasons as a wide receiver after earning an Olympic 4x100m gold medal in Montreal in 1976 as an 18-year-old. He remains the youngest U.S. Olympic champion sprinter.

Ollie Matson earned 400m bronze and 4x400m silver at the 1952 Helsinki Games. The Chicago Cardinals took him third overall in 1952. A running back, he played 14 NFL seasons and became a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

The full list of Olympians who were drafted into and played in the NFL, compiled thanks to data from Olympedia and the OlyMADMen:

Sam Francis — 1st pick, 1937 (first round)
John “Lam” Jones — 2nd pick, 1980 (first round)
Ollie Matson — 3rd pick, 1952 (first round)
Larry Burton
 — 7th pick, 1975 (first round)
Clyde Scott — 8th pick, 1948 (first round)
James Owens — 29th pick, 1979 (second round)
Jahvid Best
 — 30th pick, 2010 (first round)
Ron Brown — 41st pick, 1983 (second round)
Henry Carr — 43rd pick, 1965 (fourth round)
Bob Pickens — 44th pick, 1966 (third round)
Gerald Tinker — 44th pick, 1974 (second round)
Ray Norton — 46th pick, 1960 (fourth round)
Milt Campbell — 53rd pick, 1957 (fifth round)
Marquise Goodwin — 78th pick, 2013 (third round)
Bob Hayes — 88th pick, 1964 (seventh round)
Frank Budd — 96th pick, 1962 (seventh round)
Herschel Walker — 114th pick, 1985 (fifth round)
Randy Dean — 117th pick, 1977 (fifth round)
Michael Carter — 121st pick, 1984 (fifth round)
Jim Hines — 146th pick, 1968 (sixth round)
Michael Bates 
— 150th pick, 1992 (sixth round)
Nate Ebner — 197th pick, 2012 (sixth round)
Tommie Smith — 226th pick, 1967 (ninth round)

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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