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Sprint Central
World Class sprinters in football
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jeffh
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 1:54 am    Post subject: World Class sprinters in football Reply with quote

Does anyone know how many World Class Sprinters made the transition from track and field to pro football.

I remember Cliff Branch playing for Oakland.How fast was Branch and was he the fastest man to ever play football? If not, who was?

Was there ever any sprinters to play baseball?

Thanks
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Dan
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite a few have successfully made the transition to football, with Bob Hayes, Ron Brown, Willie Gault, and Renaldo Neahmia being the most notable. Conway can provide you a more comprehensive list. Smile

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Conway
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow .... Way too many athletes to mention that did both football and track ... Cliff Branch ran 9.3h for 100 yards back at Colorado ... Technically the fastest to play was Jim Hines with his 9.95 although he never got to play ... Of those that made an impact, Bob Hayes (10.05/9.91w) was clearly the fastest ... The Raiders have always liked speed ... Recently they have had James Jett who had a 10.06 PR ... The Redskins had Darrell Green who just recently retired I believe .. He was a former DII sprint champ with a 10.08 PR ... Dan mentioned Ron Brown who had a 10.06 PR and was a member of the 1984 Olympic squad and got gold in the 4x1 ... I could name tons of guys with PRs of say under 10.30 and 9.4 or better who were NFL players ... Also a ton of guys who ran the 200 very well lead by the likes of Tommie Smith (19.83, couldn't catch), Michael Bates (20.01, good DB) and others ... Quite a few q-milers as well ...

As far as baseball goes the only guy I can think of off the top of my head was Herb Washington ... He was a co-holder of the 60yd indoor record at 5.8 who was a designated runner back in the 70's ... It was an experiment and he didn't last long ...
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Paul
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and Earl McCullough the hurdler. (Detroit) and quite a nice career!!

The joke on Hines was "9 flat speed, 15 flat hands" but we all know how cruel these sports writers can get!!
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Dan
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The joke on Hines was "9 flat speed, 15 flat hands" but we all know how cruel these sports writers can get!!

No worse than some of the things I've heard from coaches about their own athletes... Rolling Eyes

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Paul
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about James Lofton?? Even though known as a long jumper, didn't he run some credible 200's??
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Conway
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PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lofton ran 20.7h while at Stanford ... Nice guy ... I could probably name well over a hundred track guys that have played pro ball ... Let's face it, football is a speed sport ... During the 60's, 70's and 80's track and field lost a lot of potential medallists to football ... Guys had to try ot make a living somehow ...
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jeffh
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 1:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wasn't Hershall Walker a world class sprinter.I think he was faster than anyone named so far.
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Conway
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hershell was 10.32 ... Very good ... But not world class ... Fastest running back (at least on the clock) would be Curtis Dickey who ran 10.11 ...
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Justin
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To answer the question precisely, almots no world-level sprinters have followed a successful 100m career by a successful gridiron career.

Bob Hayes (10.06/9.91w), as one of the greatest ever in both sports, stands almost alone. Jim Hines (9.95) tried to make the same transition but failed...the fans nicknamed him 'oops' because he couldn't catch. Renaldo Nehemiah (10.24/10.18w/12.91) was WR holder at 110mH when he moved across but he didn't succeed either. Nor did Ron Brown (10.06), who went pro after the 1984 OG.

Of course lots of fast men have competed at both sports, especially at college and university when track can be a second string. Among those who were primarily gridiron players but who competed to a good level at track were (most mentioned by Conway already) Willie Gault (10.10), Darrell Green (10.0Cool, Michael Bates (10.17/20.01), Leonard Scott (10.05/9.83w) and James Jett (10.14).

There is no doubt that there are many 10.2x and a few 10.1x sprinters playing US pro football. But I think it is unlikely that many truly world class (ie close to 10.00) sprinters are lost. There is a lot of huff and puff about 40y times etc but as with all sports where speed is important, there is a world of difference between being fast on a field and fast on a track. We have the same nonsense in the UK with rugby but even from my own experience the fast men from rugby hugely underestimate just how fast true sprinters are. Even as an 11.0 sprinter I would easily beat most supposedly super-quick rugby players. Put most of the gridiron so-called speed merchants on a track against even sub-world class sprinters and I suspect most would have their egos punctured quite quickly.

But to answer the question - the answer is that only one truly world class sprinter has made the transition to US football and become just as successful there: Bob Hayes.

Justin
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Justin
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just as I posted I remembered an example from rugby in the UK. Nigel Walker, a decent hurdler and 10.3 100m runner, moved to rugby when he was about 30 and played for Wales. He was SO MUCH faster than anyone else on the pitch that it was a joke. He had TRUE sprinting speed, not the power-and-effort speed of fit but not fast men.

Only one UK rugby player could be considered a real loss to sprinting - Martin Offiah (his nickname: Chariots. Get it?). He was, I believe, a man with sub 10 in his legs. I have never seen such speed on any field (old pictures of Bob Hayes excepted). More than that, he was a SPRINTER, not a fast runner. All smooth, gliding, relaxed movement, no tension.

Lots of fast men in rugby and US football. Very few sprinters. And world class sprinters are vanishingly rare. I don't think we (in T&F) lose as much to other sports as we might worry. We lose depth, for sure, but I think not too much quality.

Justin
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Dan
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
All smooth, gliding, relaxed movement, no tension.

That's probably the main differentiating point between a fast athlete and a true sprinter.

Dan
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Paul
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I enjoy reading everyone's posts in the sprint forum, but Justin's analyses are the ones that most cause me to pause and think. Good job! Thumbs Up
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Paul
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think one of the problems is that you are running with the notion of impact occurring at any time. I think it would be hard to run loose with that thought on your mind. I suppose wide receivers would come the closest.
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Dan
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PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

True, that would tend to tense you up, or at least make you run more compact. But when you see some of those footballers out of their pads and running down the track or runway, it seems like that's the only way they know how to run. Kinda like the jokes about Barry Sanders not being able to run straight even if he tried. It really did seem like he would curve across an empty field unintentionally...

Dan
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