Over the weekend John Ross, a very good football player, ran 4.22 seconds in the 40 yard dash. I don’t know what a fast time is for anything less than 100 meters, but the internet’s response lead me to believe that this was very fast. And indeed it was. Faster than any other footballman had ever run before–a world record of sorts.
But while the rest of America was busy googling the hell out of Ross’s name (see below), the running nerds decided, once again, to wage battle in their never-ending war to discredit jocks.
This LetsRun post accurately sums up 99% of the stuff on the running web:
Since we’ve become the de facto thought leaders in the track and field space, we thought it was time to issue Citius Mags’ official statement on the topic: folks, it’s fast. And for the sake of the rest of this article–and our stance on sprinting in general–we’re going to employ the binary system: FAST or NOT FAST.
As laid out in a number of blog posts, message board rants and tweets since Ross’s run on Sunday, the NFL combine is full of mortal running sins, chief among them are an archaic timing method. In a world of lasers and clocks synced with the rotation of the earth, many armchair timing experts speculated how fast it would be if the start wasn’t dictated by some wheezing old coach with a stopwatch; how fast he’d be factoring reaction time; and if only Usain Bolt was around! All of these things proved detrimental to Ross’s overall score, thus the nerds dubbed him NOT FAST.
But there’s enough crossover in our respective sports to know who’s fast and who’s not fast.
Former track greats (collegiate or otherwise) have gone on to have successful NFL careers and vice versa. Guys like Jim Hines, Bob Hayes and Ron Brown are footballman who all have Olympic gold medals. If you’re looking for some more modern examples, look no further than Jeff Demps (9.96 in the 100m), Trindon Holiday (10.00 in the 100m) and Jacoby Ford (10.01 in the 100m). All these guys ran slower than John Ross at their respective combines, but are more decorated track and field athletes.
Whether or not he could beat some of our own is beside the point. What’s great about Ross’s 40 yard dash is that it validates the faith we have in our own sport; that people will care when people run fast. Whether it’s from the 50 yard line to the endzone, from third to home, or those last 100 meters where someone’s thundering down the homestretch, American speed will always be revered.
And finally, in the grand scheme of things, if we’re desperate to crown a winner, again it’s John Ross. Take a look at the google trends for the past week. I chose to use the search term “track and field” in hopes of giving last weekend’s USATF Indoor Championships a bit of an edge, assuming that a broad search term may be bolstered by some affiliate links that have nothing to do with this weekend’s championships. Didn’t work. John Ross was more popular than track and field, but track and field was marginally more popular than cat food. Thank god for that.