Seattle Seahawks’ DK Metcalf could be latest NFL player with potential Olympic bid

DK Metcalf
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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf turned heads with displays of speed on the gridiron. On Sunday, he’ll trade his helmet and pads for track spikes and run for a chance at the Olympic Trials.

Metcalf is set to race in the 100m in this weekend’s USATF Golden Games and Distance Open at Mt. SAC in Walnut, California. NBC, and the NBC Sports app air live coverage on Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET. Peacock streams live coverage from 3:15-6 p.m. ET and coverage airs from 2-4:30 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET onwards.

Metcalf ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Combine, but it would be a significant feat to qualify for the Olympic Trials. It’s not easy to estimate Metcalf’s exact chances of making it to the Trials, as his football speed doesn’t account for a block start.

He would automatically qualify for the Trials in June with a 10.05 on Sunday — a lofty task for the wide receiver. Breaking 10.20 seconds, a more realistic mark, would still give him a good chance to qualify.

If Metcalf made it to the Trials in June, it would then be a tall order to make it to Tokyo. But if he did, he would join a cohort of dozens of NFL players to compete at the Olympic Games.

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

Notable Olympians who Competed in the NFL

Bob Hayes

At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, 21-year-old sprinter Bob Hayes won the 100m. Hayes crossed the finish line in 10.06 seconds to tie the world record mark at the time. He then returned to Florida A&M University, where he played football and ran track.

The Cowboys selected Hayes in the 1964 draft, and the receiver went on to play 11 years in Dallas. He is still the only person to have won a Super Bowl and an Olympic gold medal.

Herschel Walker

Walker took a similar route to Metcalf, making an Olympic bid while still an active NFL player. Walker’s path, though, was in bobsled. The University of Georgia running back won the Heisman Trophy in 1982 before starting his NFL career with the Cowboys in 1986. He took seventh in two-man bobsledding in the 1992 Winter Olympics. Walker was set to compete in four-man bobsledding before being replaced two days before the race.

Jim Thorpe

Thorpe won Olympic gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon in the 1912 Olympic Games. Thorpe was an acclaimed athlete in multiple sports, including football, and later served as the first president of the National Football League (formerly called the American Professional Football Association).

Nate Ebner

Ebner was a member of the U.S. rugby team at the 2016 Rio Olympics before winning Super Bowl LI with the Patriots just a few months later. Ebner spent eight years — and won three Super Bowls — in New England. He played for the Giants in 2020 and announced Olympic intentions for 2021.

Tommie Smith

Tommie Smith won the 200m at the 1968 Olympics and is best known for his raised fist on the podium after the race. Smith’s winning time of 19.83 seconds marked the first official instance of a sub-20 time in the 200m. Then-Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Walsh invited Smith to a tryout that resulted in Smith playing two games at wide receiver.

Marquise Goodwin

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin competed in the long jump in the 2012 London Olympics after track and football careers at the University of Texas. He later competed in the 2016 Olympic Trials but didn’t make the U.S. team for the Rio Games.

Goodwin, who signed a one-year deal with the Eagles for the 2020 season, opted out due to concerns about COVID-19 and landed in Chicago in April. Before signing with the Bears, he competed in the long jump for the first time since 2016 and recorded one of the best marks in the world so far this year.

Related: Vashti, Randall Cunningham bid for Olympic sibling history may be more likely in 2021.

Other Olympic-NFL Connections

While he never played in an NFL game, nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis was drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys in the 12th round in 1984. This was ahead of the Los Angeles Olympics, where Lewis won the 100m, 200m, long jump and anchored the victorious U.S. 4x100m relay team. Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill has expressed Olympic ambitions, and easily qualified for Olympic Trials in the 200m in 2012. His best time of 20.14 would have made the Olympic team, but Hill ran at junior nationals and the world junior championships instead of Trials. And 2017 100m world champion Justin Gatlin tried out for multiple NFL teams in 2006 and 2007 while serving a four-year doping ban, including the Texans, Cardinals, Saints and Buccaneers. He never signed a contract, but Jon Gruden nicknamed him “Gold Medal.”

Off the track and on the ice, retired NFL player Vernon Davis – who became a fan of curling before the 2010 Olympics – served as an honorary captain for the U.S. curling team in Vancouver, Sochi and PyeongChang. In 2018, retired Pro Bowlers Jared Allen and Marc Bulger formed a competitive curling team and announced plans to bid for a spot at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

NFL Venues and the Olympics

In addition to athlete overlap, the NFL and the Olympics have trod the same territory when it comes to venues. When the Olympics return to American soil in 2028, SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The stadium will first host Super Bowl LVI in 2022. The venue, less than a year old, is the home of the LA Rams and Chargers.

The LA Memorial Coliseum, home to the first and seventh Super Bowls, hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in 1932 and 1984.

The storied Rose Bowl — the site of five Super Bowls — will be used as a soccer venue in 2028. Stanford Stadium, which may also host soccer in 2028, was used for the same purpose in the 1984 Games. It was also the site of Super Bowl XIX in 1985.

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
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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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