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

Jahvid Best
Getty Images

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)

MORE: Ex-NFL Pro Bowlers try curling with 2022 Olympic goal

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
1 Comment

The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback


Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

Also Wednesday, 108th-ranked Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis ousted three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in four and a half hours. Wawrinka’s exit leaves Novak Djokovic as the lone man in the draw who has won the French Open and Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz as the lone men left who have won any major.

The top seed Alcaraz beat 112th-ranked Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. The Spaniard gets 26th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in the third round. Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, swept 83rd-ranked Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (2), 6-0, 6-3 to reach a third-round date with 29th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!