Every four years, a debate surrounding Usain Bolt begins.
Bolt, of course, is obscenely fast, to the point that the Jamaican sprinter has reigned as the fastest man in the world over three Olympic cycles. With that unquestioned speed and his 6-foot-5 frame, many assume that Bolt could immediately make it as a professional athlete in a different sport.
To that end, former NFL head coach and Hall of Famer Tony Dungy opined that Bolt would “scare a lot of people” on the gridiron, saying also that “it would be fun to see him on a football field” in a conversation with NBC’s Dan Patrick. This isn’t the first time that a prominent sporting personality has shared this sentiment regarding Bolt because athletes who run supremely fast at his height would be clear candidates to translate into other vocations, especially as a wide receiver, the position that Dungy thinks Bolt could potentially play.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones isn’t so sure, though, as the All-Pro pass catcher dismissed the idea for a few reasons in a recent conversation with Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. Jones indicated that “it would be hard for (Bolt) to really pull away from guys in football” on account of the sprinter’s issues getting started out of the blocks, and Jones even went on to say that Bolt would not be effective as a kick returner, either, claiming it would be “difficult for him” due to changes in direction.
While this may seem controversial, Jones is absolutely, unequivocally correct. Yes, it is helpful to be the fastest person in the universe, but simply being able to run quickly does not make an NFL player (or any other athlete) able to excel. There are numerous examples of professional sports wash-outs who could not adopt the other parts of the game, especially guys who fit the bill of “tall, fast wide receivers.” Additionally, Bolt is now 30. Think about the other 30-year-olds that you know and how they would fare in beginning a different athletic pursuit for the first time.
It is fair to say that Bolt isn’t a typical 30-year-old or even a typical human being. Still, Jones has the right idea here, and with more than eight years of buzz surrounding Usain Bolt and his NFL “prospects,” it is time to stop.