Who are the fastest NFL players in track’s 100m?

Bob Hayes
Getty Images

When DK Metcalf lines up to race the 100m against some of the U.S.’ best sprinters on Sunday, he will also compete against history — a long line of football speedsters to excel in track (most of whom did so before entering the NFL).

Here’s a list of the fastest wind-legal 100m times from men who played in an NFL regular season game (statistics via World Athletics, Tilastopaja.org and Pro Football Reference):

1. Jim Hines — 9.95 (1968)
The 1968 Olympic 100m gold medalist was the first man to break 10 seconds with electronic timing and remains the only NFL player to do so. Hines was a sixth-round pick in the 1968 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He joined the team after the Mexico City Games, was given the number 99 and later an unfortunate nickname for a wide receiver — “Oops.” He played in 10 games between 1969 and 1970 for the Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.

2. Trindon Holliday — 10.00 (2009)
The 5-foot-5 return specialist placed second in the 2007 USATF Outdoor Championships behind Tyson Gay, but passed on a world championships spot to focus on football. He was eliminated in the 2008 Olympic Trials semifinals, was drafted in 2010 in the sixth round by the Houston Texans, then played among five teams in the regular season from 2011-14.

(All-Pro Raiders wide receiver Cliff Branch ran a recorded 10.0 at the 1972 NCAA Championships, which was presumably hand timed and is not counted by World Athletics.)

3/4. Jeff Demps/Jacoby Ford — 10.01 (2008/2009)
Demps is the lone active sprinter on this list. His best time came at the 2008 Olympic Trials, counting as the national high school record though it came the summer after the end of his prep career. He later won a national football title at the University of Florida, was part of the 4x100m relay at the 2012 Olympics and played in two NFL games as a return specialist in 2013.

Ford is better known for his days as a Raiders wide receiver (57 receptions from 2010-13), but he clocked 10.01 while a Clemson sprinter in 2009. As Jesse Squire noted, an argument can be made that Ford is the fastest man who played significantly in the NFL.

5/6. Bob Hayes/Ron Brown — 10.06 (1964/1983)
Hayes is the only man with an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring, achieving the former at the 1964 Tokyo Games and the latter in 1972 during a Hall of Fame wide receiving career mostly with the Dallas Cowboys. He ran 10.06 to dominate the Olympic final, which Tim Layden covered as part of this story last year.

Brown ran his 10.06 in 1983, after he turned down the Cleveland Browns, who drafted him in the second round that year, to pursue the 1984 Olympics. Brown finished fourth in the 100m in Los Angeles and earned relay gold. He then went to the NFL, playing 100 games primarily as a return specialist.

7. Alvis Whitted — 10.07 (1996)
Sixth in the 1996 Olympic Trials 200m won by Michael Johnson in a world record (that Johnson later broke at the Atlanta Games). Whitted ran that final in lane two, sandwiched among three individual Olympic gold medalists — Carl Lewis (lane one), Mike Marsh (four) and Johnson (five). Whitted returned to NC State, then played nine seasons as a wide receiver between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Raiders.

8. Darrell Green — 10.08 (1983)
Known as the NFL’s Fastest Man for winning the league’s annual head-to-head sprint competition four times in the 1980s and ’90s. Green, a Hall of Fame cornerback for Washington who never competed at the Olympics, dusted 1984 relay gold medalists Brown and Sam Graddy, 1992 Olympic bobsledder Herschel Walker, bobsledder and masters sprint champion Willie Gault and Mel Gray, the Detroit Lions’ ace return specialist. Green also reportedly ran a 4.09-second 40-yard dash, faster than the NFL Combine record (4.22), though Green tweeted in March that it was “somewhere in the range of 4.09ish.”

9. Sam Graddy — 10.09 (1984)
1984 Olympic 100m silver medalist behind Lewis. Graddy played 43 games over five NFL seasons as a wide receiver.

10. Willie Gault — 10.10 (1982)
Gault qualified for the 1980 Olympics as part of the 4x100m relay pool, but the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games. He then began an 11-year NFL career as a wide receiver, winning Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears (and helped organize the “Super Bowl Shuffle,” where he was the second solo singer between Walter Payton and Mike Singletary). While playing football, he wanted to bid for LA 84, but was barred over rules that kept professional athletes out of the Games. In 1988, Gault traveled to the Calgary Winter Games with the U.S. bobsled team as a non-competing alternate. Gault owns 100m masters world records for ages 45-49 (10.72), 50-54 (10.88) and 55-59 (11.30).

*Half of the men on this list (plus Branch) played for the Raiders, who weren’t shy about drafting or signing speed.

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U.S. women’s rugby team qualifies for 2024 Paris Olympics as medal contender

Cheta Emba

The U.S. women’s rugby team qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by clinching a top-four finish in this season’s World Series.

Since rugby was re-added to the Olympics in 2016, the U.S. men’s and women’s teams finished fifth, sixth, sixth and ninth at the Games.

The U.S. women are having their best season since 2018-19, finishing second or third in all five World Series stops so far and ranking behind only New Zealand and Australia, the winners of the first two Olympic women’s rugby sevens tournaments.

The U.S. also finished fourth at last September’s World Cup.

Three months after the Tokyo Games, Emilie Bydwell was announced as the new U.S. head coach, succeeding Olympic coach Chris Brown.

Soon after, Tokyo Olympic co-captain Abby Gustaitis was cut from the team.

Jaz Gray, who led the team in scoring last season and at the World Cup, missed the last three World Series stops after an injury.

The U.S. men are ranked ninth in this season’s World Series and will likely need to win either a North American Olympic qualifier this summer or a last-chance global qualifier in June 2024 to make it to Paris.

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Oscar Pistorius denied parole, hasn’t served enough time

Oscar Pistorius
File photo

Olympic and Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius was denied parole Friday and will have to stay in prison for at least another year and four months after it was decided that he had not served the “minimum detention period” required to be released following his murder conviction for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp 10 years ago.

The parole board ruled that Pistorius would only be able to apply again in August 2024, South Africa’s Department of Corrections said in a short, two-paragraph statement. It was released soon after a parole hearing at the Atteridgeville Correctional Centre prison where Pistorius is being held.

The board cited a new clarification on Pistorius’ sentence that was issued by South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal just three days before the hearing, according to the statement. Still, legal experts criticized authorities’ decision to go ahead with the hearing when Pistorius was not eligible.

Reeva Steenkamp’s parents, Barry and June, are “relieved” with the decision to keep Pistorius in prison but are not celebrating it, their lawyer told The Associated Press.

“They can’t celebrate because there are no winners in this situation. They lost a daughter and South Africa lost a hero,” lawyer Tania Koen said, referring to the dramatic fall from grace of Pistorius, once a world-famous and highly-admired athlete.

The decision and reasoning to deny parole was a surprise but there has been legal wrangling over when Pistorius should be eligible for parole because of the series of appeals in his case. He was initially convicted of culpable homicide, a charge comparable to manslaughter, in 2014 but the case went through a number of appeals before Pistorius was finally sentenced to 13 years and five months in prison for murder in 2017.

Serious offenders must serve at least half their sentence to be eligible for parole in South Africa. Pistorius’ lawyers had previously gone to court to argue that he was eligible because he had served the required portion if they also counted periods served in jail from late 2014 following his culpable homicide conviction.

The lawyer handling Pistorius’ parole application did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

June Steenkamp attended Pistorius’ hearing inside the prison complex to oppose his parole. The parents have said they still do not believe Pistorius’ account of their daughter’s killing and wanted him to stay in jail.

Pistorius, who is now 36, has always claimed he killed Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and law student, in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day 2013 after mistaking her for a dangerous intruder in his home. He shot four times with his licensed 9 mm pistol through a closed toilet cubicle door in his bathroom, where Steenkamp was, hitting her multiple times. Pistorius claimed he didn’t realize his girlfriend had got out of bed and gone to the bathroom.

The Steenkamps say they still think he is lying and killed her intentionally after a late-night argument.

Lawyer Koen had struck a more critical tone when addressing reporters outside the prison before the hearing, saying the Steenkamps believed Pistorius could not be considered to be rehabilitated “unless he comes clean” over the killing.

“He’s the killer of their daughter. For them, it’s a life sentence,” Koen said before the hearing.

June Steenkamp had sat grim-faced in the back seat of a car nearby while Koen spoke to reporters outside the prison gates ahead of the hearing. June Steenkamp and Koen were then driven into the prison in a Department of Corrections vehicle. June Steenkamp made her submission to the parole board in a separate room to Pistorius and did not come face-to-face with her daughter’s killer, Koen said.

Barry Steenkamp did not travel for the hearing because of poor health but a family friend read out a statement to the parole board on his behalf, the parents’ lawyer said.

Pistorius was once hailed as an inspirational figure for overcoming the adversity of his disability, before his murder trial and sensational downfall captivated the world.

Pistorius’s lower legs were amputated when he was a baby because of a congenital condition and he walks with prosthetics. He went on to become a double-amputee runner and multiple Paralympic champion who made history by competing against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, running on specially designed carbon-fiber blades.

Pistorius’ conviction eventually led to him being sent to the Kgosi Mampuru II maximum security prison, one of South Africa’s most notorious. He was moved to the Atteridgeville prison in 2016 because that facility is better suited to disabled prisoners.

There have only been glimpses of his life in prison, with reports claiming he had at one point grown a beard, gained weight and taken up smoking and was unrecognizable from the elite athlete he once was.

He has spent much of his time working in an area of the prison grounds where vegetables are grown, sometimes driving a tractor, and has reportedly been running bible classes for other inmates.

Pistorius’ father, Henke Pistorius, told the Pretoria News newspaper before the hearing that his family hoped he would be home soon.

“Deep down, we believe he will be home soon,” Henke Pistorius said, “but until the parole board has spoken the word, I don’t want to get my hopes up.”

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