As we get ready to marvel at the always impressive 100-meter times at the Tokyo 2020/2021 Olympics, who are the fastest NFL players of all time? Let’s take a look at the five fastest NFL players to compete in the Olympics and the five fastest to have never made the games.
Fastest NFL players that competed in the Olympics
Which NFL players make up the five fastest to have competed at the Olympics?
5) Sam Graddy | 10.09 (1984)
The first Olympic champion on our list is Sam Graddy. While he was beaten into silver in the 100m by Carl Lewis, Graddy would win a gold medal in the 4x100m relay team. Graddy’s personal best of 10.09 came just prior to the Olympics in May 1984 at Baton Rouge in Louisiana.
T3) Bob Hayes & Ron Brown | 10.06 (1964/1983)
Bob Hayes has quite a résumé. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a Super Bowl winner, a double Olympic medalist, and a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame. Hayes set the official world record in the 100m at 10.06 in the Olympic final in 1964. He was hand-timed at 9.9 seconds by officials, but this was not officially recognized. Hayes was the first man to break 10 seconds in the semifinal of the 1964 Olympics. However, the time was again not officially recognized as a world record due to it being wind-assisted.
Tied with Hayes in terms of the fastest NFL players of all time, Ron Brown was part of the same team as Graddy, who won gold in the 1984 4x100m relay. Brown ran the second leg of the relay, taking the baton from Graddy. The fastest recorded time of his career (10.01 seconds) came in Eugene, Oregon, in 1983. His time would have been enough to win silver in the 1984 Olympics, behind Lewis but ahead of Graddy. Unfortunately, Brown could only manage 10.26 in the final, finishing fourth behind Ben Johnson of Canada.
2) Jeff Demps | 10.01 (2008)
Demps was unfortunately denied from having an Olympic medal due to Tyson Gay admitting to using a banned substance. Demps ran in the preliminary rounds of the relay but was replaced by Gay for the final. The team finished second but were later stripped of their medals. Demps’ career-fastest time came at the 2008 US Olympic Trials, setting a new national high school record and equaling the world junior record.
1) Jim Hines | 9.95 seconds (1968)
Hines would become the first man to break the 10-second barrier in the 100m in the US National Championships in 1968. He would do so again at the 1968 Olympics, winning gold with a time of 9.95 seconds. His time at the US National Championships was reportedly faster at 9.9 seconds, but in 1977, only fully automatic timings were considered for world records. Therefore, Hines’ time of 9.95 seconds was considered a new world record and made him the fastest man among NFL players.
Who are the fastest NFL players not to make the Olympics?
Which four NFL players have recorded the fastest 100m times but did not compete at the Olympics?
Willie Gault | 10.10 (1982)
It is a story of “close but not quite” for Willie Gault when it comes to his participation at the Olympics. He qualified for the 1980 Olympics as part of the 4x100m relay team, but the US boycotted the Olympics in Moscow. He was then denied from attempting to qualify for the 1984 Olympics due to being a professional football player. In 1988, he would go to the Calgary Winter Games with the bobsled team but did not compete.
Darrell Green | 10.08 (1983)
While Green never competed in an Olympics, many viewed him as the fastest among NFL players during his time in the league. In the NFL’s sprint contest, Green beat two Olympic gold medalists in Ron Brown and Sam Graddy. Furthermore, he reportedly ran a 4.09 40-yard dash.
Alvis Whitted | 10.02 (1996)
Ranking top five all-time when it comes to official 100m times by NFL players, the closest Alvis Whitted got to the Olympics was in the 200m. He finished sixth in the 1996 US Olympic Trials in a field featuring three Olympic gold medalists in Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, and Mike Marsh.
Jacoby Ford | 10.01 (2009)
The competition between Jacoby Ford and Trindon Holliday at the 2009 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Arkansas must have been quite the show. On the first day of the bout (June 10), Ford recorded his best-ever result of 10.01 seconds.
Trindon Holliday | 10.00 (2009)
Holliday is reportedly the second-fastest among NFL players ever in the 100m, when regarding officially recorded times. Holliday was a track star for LSU and qualified for the 2007 World Championships. However, he chose to focus on his football career and could not progress beyond the semifinals in the 2008 US Olympic Trials. His fastest time of 10.00 seconds would come in 2009. Holliday ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the 2010 NFL Combine.
Tyreek Hill recorded a 9.98-second 100m dash in 2013. Yet, Hill’s time was wind-assisted beyond the legally acceptable amount. Hill’s fastest officially reported 100m time is 10.19 seconds while in high school in 2012.
How do these times compare to current players?
In 2021, DK Metcalf competed in the Golden Games, running the 100m to qualify for the Olympics. Metcalf ran the 100m in 10.37 seconds, finishing ninth. During the 2019 NFL Combine, Metcalf ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he ranked 10th in the NFL in 2020 in terms of top speed achieved at 21.66 MPH. The fastest player on the list was Raheem Mostert, who placed both first and second at 23.09 and 22.73 MPH.
In terms of the official 40-yard dash time, the fastest NFL player is John Ross, who was drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017. As a senior in high school in 2013, Ross ran the 100m in 10.66 seconds.
Throughout history, many have claimed there are several times faster than that. Still, official records only date back to 1999, when electronic timing was used for the first time. As mentioned above, Darrell Green reportedly produced a 4.09 second time in the 40-yard dash in 1986. If that is accurate, he would rank first among NFL players all-time in the 40-yard dash.
Following claims that NFL players were as fast as Usain Bolt, Olympic sprinter Christian Coleman ran the 40-yard dash in 4.12 seconds in 2017. In 2016, Coleman had run the 100m in 9.95 seconds. He would go on to record a personal best of 9.76 seconds in 2019. Additionally, in 2019, a year and a half after retiring from competition, Bolt ran a 4.22 40-yard dash in running shoes and a tracksuit.
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