Before football careers, many NFL stars excelled at track


August 20, 2016
Ted Ginn Junior
Marquise Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin


Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr has a unique perspective on the exploits of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who has become the star of the final week of the Rio Olympics.

Ginn competed against Bolt when their 4x100m relay teams squared off in high school. Ginn's team won.

He was recruited to Ohio State University with the thought that he could qualify for the 2008 Olympics, and he ran the 100m in 10.2 seconds as a freshman. Ginn chose football over track, and now is gearing up for another season with the Panthers after coming up short in the Super Bowl in February.

"Just watching (the Olympics) on TV right now, I kind of get goosebumps on certain races ... like the 4x400, the 400, 200, 110," Ginn told reporters during training camp.

"That gives me goosebumps, because a lot of them guys are No. 1 guys we raced in high school."

Ginn is one of several NFL players who had stellar track careers before football a sport where Olympic speed is a coveted commodity. Many of them were so good at sprints, jumps and hurdles in college or high school that they thought long and hard about pursuing Olympic gold over a Super Bowl ring.

Among them are: Marquise Goodwin - The Buffalo Bills wideout attempted last month to qualify for the Rio Games in long jump, but finished seventh, blaming the result on a strained hamstring suffered during qualifications. He made the Olympic track and field team in London in 2012, finishing 10th in long jump.

Jamaal Charles - Before becoming one of the top running backs in football, Charles was an elite sprinter.

Chris Johnson - While a running back for the Tennessee Titans, Johnson raised eyebrows during the 2012 London Games when he told the Tennessean that he could beat Bolt in the 40-yard dash.

Robert Griffin III, who was a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, was a superb hurdler at Baylor University. He was an All-American in the 400m hurdles, with a career-best time of 49.22.

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was also a high school track star in Palestine, Texas.

Other Sports Stories