Catching Hail Marys and Qualifying for the Olympics?
By: Sean Miller
Two of the best NFL wide receivers in the game right now, Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs and DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks seem to not just have their minds set on winning Super Bowls, but potentially reaching an even bigger stage: the Olympics. How realistic of a goal is this for them? Is it possible to catch hail marys AND clock a 9.7 in the 100 meter dash? Tyreek and DK seem to think so.
Prior to Super Bowl LIV, Tyreek Hill said in an interview: “Hopefully after this season, if I am healthy and my mind is in the right place, I really want to try and qualify for some olympic teams, or even go to Penn Relays. Maybe get a few guys off the team and see if we can get a relay together. We can show these track guys we used to do this back in high school, and we still got it.” Although a lofty goal for someone that has focused primarily on football the last 8 years of his life, what he said may not have been totally outlandish. According to Milesplit USA, in his senior year of high school Tyreek ran a blistering 10.19 in the 100m dash and a 20.14 in the 200m dash. To put it into perspective, the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials standard for the 100m dash is 10.05 and 20.24 for the 200m. And yes, you read that right. As an 18 year old senior in high school, Tyreek qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Trials for the 200m. But can he get this speed back? Although still widely considered to be the fastest man in the NFL, he has expressed concerns on if this is even feasible. In the same interview prior to Super Bowl LIV he stated: “The thing is that I weigh 195 right now. Back in high school I was 175. If I do it, it would mean me changing my whole diet, and changing everything I’ve done to get to this point now.” Personally, from what Tyreek has done in the past I believe that if he really wanted to focus on his olympic dream, it could happen. Although I don’t see how he could strap on the track spikes and football cleats at the same time. Needless to say, the 5’10, 195 pound Superbowl champ would have a lot of work ahead of him to catch the likes of 5’11, 154 pound Doha 200m gold medalist Noah Lyles.
If 195 pound Tyreek Hill would have to drop weight to make the Olympic Team, why is 6 foot 4, 229 pound DK metcalf even in the picture? Someone would have had to be insane to consider the idea of DK Metcalf running with world class sprinters. That was the case until one Sunday Night Football game changed everything. During a 114.8 yard sprint to run down a member of the other team, DK reached a top speed of 22.64 miles per hour. This means that in the middle of this sprint, he covered the 100m distance in a scorching 9.88 seconds. Of course, in a real track scenario you wont get a running start, but you won't be in full football pads either. With half tights and a singlet on, DK could be limitless. Following this remarkable run, USATF promptly tweeted, “For everyone asking if we have a spot open on our relay team for @dkm14, @NFL players are welcome to come test their speed against real speed next year at the Olympic Trials.” To no surprise, DK retweeted this statement saying: “See you there” with a smile emoji attached. Seeing these NFL players flirt with the idea of trying to make an Olympic team has certainly been entertaining, but not all professional track athletes buy it. On October 27th, Citiusmag posted on instagram: “What do you think @dkm14 can run for the 100m? Share your thoughts in the comments.” Noah Lyles quickly responded, “He won’t make it out of the first round.”
Personally, I don't think that it's a question regarding if they have what it takes to hit these qualifying marks, but if they take the time to prioritize them. Both athletes clearly possess world class speed. Take Grant Holloway for example. Grant is a multi-NCAA champion, Doha 2019 110m hurdles gold medalist, and 60m hurdles world record holder. Going into college, he had offers to play football and run track and field at Florida. In an interview after his 2019 World Championship performance Grant stated: “Going into college my parents broke it down for me. Do you want to be in the NFL or do you want to be an Olympian. My heart was to be an Olympian.”
For us track fans, one thing we all have witnessed in recent years is an evolution of our sport. Five years ago there were no Brooks Beasts, Team Boss, Bowman, and Tinman selling merch, starting youtube channels, and competing on and off the track. There were no companies such as Sound Running, Citiusmag, and Tracklandia steaming meets for free. All of these aspects have proved beneficial to our sport by means of pushing it forward. Whether Tyreek Hill and DK Metcalf have what it takes to make the Olympic trials or not, integrating one of the world's most popular sports of football with track and field will only serve to evolve it further. So, USATF, lets make an actual effort to get these guys to compete at the Olympic Trials-just think about how many people will tune in to watch guys like DK and Tyreek go head to head with the top sprinters in the country.