October 25, 2011
Early last year, back when he was on top of the football world and long before his holdout and subsequent fantasy-killing season, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson told the world he could win a race against the world's fastest man, Usain Bolt. Rumors of a charity match followed and hours of airtime were devoted to the question: Could the NFL speedster actually beat the Olympic gold medalist?
Some gave him a chance, most were skeptical and a few people, like myself, refused to entertain the notion that Johnson would even be close. There were far too many differences between track sprinting and football running and Johnson would look as ill-equipped on the track as Bolt would look in a helmet.
On Tuesday, I spoke with the world's second-fastest man, Tyson Gay, and asked him about Johnson's comments. He had clearly heard the comments and knew what I was talking about. The three-time world championship gold medalist confirmed that the NFL star, no matter how fast his 40 time, couldn't hang with him or Usain.
Tyson Gay: It's totally different than any other sport. If you have baseball, basketball, football, it's all a matter of quick bursts and hopefully you don't get caught. Track and field is about reaction, power, drafting, the patience. It's a lot more art to sprinting than it is in football. You have to try to get to full speed as quick as possible but you have to have patience. Football is also about patience but lateral movement and things like that too. It's a different ball game when football players think they can step on the track and spike it up and run against a world-class sprinter.
Fourth-Place Medal: If a really fast football player decided to come out, train for six weeks and run a 100 against you, how would they fare?
Tyson Gay: [Laughs] Their time or against a top sprinter?
FPM: I guess we both agree they'd get destroyed by a top sprinter. So what about the time? Let's say they're running you in the 100 in the same conditions and you post a 9.8 [his personal best is 9.69].
Tyson Gay: About 10 -- 10.3
The ball's in your court, Chris Johnson.
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