Thursday, February 20, 2014

NFL's Fastest Man Competition

by John Turney

Literally taking a page from the excellent book The Pro Football Chronicle: The Complete (Well Almost Record of the Best Players, the Greatest Photos, the Hardest Hits, the Biggest Scandals) by Dan Daly and Bob O'Connell. Pro Football Journal has attempted to update their report on the NFL's Fastest Man competition chronicled in that volume:
Graphic courtesy Collier Books.

As you can see from page 259 Ron Brown had the fastest time, but Darrell Green won the contest every time he entered. Green left little doubt with his declaration, "I am the fastest man in the NFL. I am faster than all the players. I am faster than all the coaches. I am faster than all the general managers, trainers, and the PR men. I am the fastest man in the NFL".

Green sat out 1990 when Ron Brown won again but regained his title in 1991 when he, again, was the fastest man in the NFL.

Although the AP reports quoted are spotty, and a full record of the heats and times have yet to be unearthed, the following is a recap of the 1990s NFL Fastest Man competitions:

Champion: Ron Brown.

"Brown defeated Erik McMillan of the New York Jets, 6.23 to 6.54
Gault beat Eric Metcalf of the Cleveland Browns, 6.31 to 6.34.
Anthony Miller of the Chargers beat (as of yet not found)
Rod Woodson of the Steelers beat (as of yet not found)
Brown ran the next heat in 6.16 seconds, ahead of Rod Woodson's 6.43.
Gault, beat Anthony Miller 6.28 to 6.30.

The final heat:
Ron Brown - 6.18
Willie Gault - 6.32

Champion: Darrell Green

"In the first two heats, Green beat Sam Graddy of the Raiders with a 6.19 clocking and ran the best time of the day (6.13) in beating Mel Gray of the Detroit Lions in his first heat.

Tim Brown beat the Vikings Herschel Walker with a 6.30 time and then bested Anthony Miller of the San Diego Chargers with 6.25 time in his first two heats.

In the other two races, Miller beat Tony Jones of the Houston Oilers and Graddy beat James Williams of the Buffalo Bills. The Graddy-Williams heat was a photo finish.

Green and Brown raced in the championship heat and both finished with a time of 6.17 seconds, but Green edged Ron Brown with his chest at the tape in a photo finish."

Champion: Alexander Wright

"Wright began the day when he won a photo-finish against Buffalo Bills defensive back J.D. Williams in the semifinals. Each ran a time of 6.29. 

The Cardinals Randal Hill beat No. 1 seed Willie Gault of the Los Angeles Raiders in the other semifinal. 

Earlier in the day, Wright bested Pittsburgh's Dwight Stone

J.D. Williams advanced to face Wright by beating and Atlanta wide receiver Michael Haynes in the opening round.

Gault beat Indianapolis wide receiver Clarence Verdin before losing to Hill, who had advanced by beating Detroit wide receiver Mel Gray

In the championship, Wright beat unseeded receiver Randal Hill of the Phoenix Cardinals, 6.14 seconds to 6.20 seconds in the 60-yard race. 

Four-time champion Darrell Green of the Redskins declined to participate in 1992."

Champion: Alexander Wright

"(Michael) Haynes (Falcons) beat Don Beebe (Bills) with a time of 6.34
(Alexander) Wright (Raiders) beat Terrell Buckley (Packers) easily with a time of 6.24
(Randal) Hill (Cardinals) beat Steve Israel (Rams) also very easily with a 6.25
Troy Vincent (Dolphins) upset Anthony Miller (Chargers) with a 6.44

2nd round
Haynes defeats Hill with a time of 6.29
Wright wins over Vincent with a 6.22

In the final heat Wright ran the 60 yards in 6.19 seconds, Michael Haynes, who finished with a  6.20 time."

Pro Football Journal is still searching for the heat-by-heat data for the competition.

There was no competition

Champion: James Trapp

"Trapp (6.26) won the competition after the 1995 season, narrowly beating Raiders teammate James Jett (6.32) - note: Michael Bates also ran a 6.32 but lost second place in a photo finish to Jett. 

Trapp advanced to face Jett by running a 6.25-second 60-yard dash (also reported as a 6.29) to beat defending champion Alexander Wright, earlier he beat Michael Bates. 

Entrants also included two-time defending champion, Glyn Milburn of Denver and Viking Qadry Ismail (and Tyrone Hughes) both (all) of whom Jett prevailed over to meet Trapp in the final."

Champion: James Jett

"Receiver James Jett finished the 60-yard sprint in 6.10 seconds and edged Trapp (6.15) in the final. 

Rams wide receiver Alexander Wright finished third. Wright was clocked in 6.25. The Packers Travis Jervey finished fourth.

Jervey's time of 6.32 seconds was enough to place him fourth overall -- ahead of both Minnesota wide receiver Qadry Ismail (6.4) and Detroit all-purpose performer Glyn Milburn (6.42).

In the finals, Oakland wide receiver James Jett, ran 6.10 and defeated Trapp (6.22) and St. Louis wide receiver Alexander Wright (6.30)."

Champion: Eddie Kennison

"Kennison won the annual NFL Fastest Man event with a time of 6.12 seconds in the 60-yard dash.

In an odd turn, Kennison lost his heat race to Oakland defensive back James Trapp. However, Kennison's time was second-fastest in the preliminaries, and the rules stipulated that he would be allowed to compete in the final heat.

Other players in the field were James Jett of the Raiders and Travis Jervey (and Herschel Walker)."

Giants defensive back Jason Sehorn was also invited.

Jervey (6.40) beat Herschel Walker's 6.48 in one preliminary heat. Jervey went on to finish fourth with a clocking of 6.25 seconds.


1997 marked the end of the competition that lasted a bit over a decade. In looking at the Pro Football Chronicle data combined with the 1990s data we find:

Fastest time in the 1990s: James Jett 6.10.
Fastest time in the 1980s: Ron Brown 6.095

Darrell Green won the most titles with four and that would seemingly verify that he was the NFL's Fastest man.