The Hall of Fame welcomes the man that brought pure speed to the NFL


NFL “speed” trailblazer Bullet Bob Hayes will finally get his due as he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend

The Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions that are held every year in Canton, OH are special for a number of reasons.   Each year the small-town in middle America welcomes the National Football League’s best,  making “The Place Where Football Legends Come to Rest” feel alive.  Of course every year ‘s induction class is special and this year’s group is no different with names like Bruce Smith, Rod Woodson, Derrick Thomas, Randall McDaniel and Ralph Wilson Jr.  However the crown jewel of this year’s Hall of Fame induction class, in my opinion,  will be a player who truly revolutionalized the game of football forever. 

 Ever wonder why football announcers are always enamored with talking about “World Class Speed” and NFL scouts are just as obsessed each year about potential draft picks forty-yard dash times at the NFL Combine.  The NFL’s obsession with speed has gotten so crazy over the years that teams were reportedly contacting current Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt about football, even though the Jamaican had never played the game.  The NFL’s “need for speed” can be directly attributed to an athlete named Robert Lee Hayes, who was affectionately known as “Bullet Bob” during his heyday with the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 to 1974.  “This guy revolutionized the passing game and forced them to come up with the zone defense, just like Wilt Chamberlain forced them to change certain rules in basketball,” Hall of Fame defensive back and former teammate Herb Adderley said. 

Hayes arrived on the pro football scene in 1965 and was already a worldwide star after achieving Olympic glory at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.  The “World’s Fastest Man” won gold medals in the 100 meters and 4×100 meter relay at those games – got his title after running an amazing 8.6 second relay split in a come from behind relay victory. His combination of size (5’11, 185) and speed were what attracted the Dallas Cowboys’ braintrust led by scout Gil Brandt to draft Hayes in the 7th round of the 1964 NFL Draft.  However the difference between Hayes and most “track” guys that attempted to play football was that he had no fear of contact and didn’t try to avoid being hit.  The Bullet had been a star running back at HBCU powerhouse Florida A&M while learning under legendary head coach Jake Gaither that physicality was part of the game of football and that he needed to harness his speed within the game. 

In his rookie season of 1965, the NFL was forever changed as Hayes piled up stats of 46 receptions for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns to lead the Cowboys in those categories while only playing in 13 games.  In just his second regular season game, he gave the Redskins and the NFL a glimpse of the future of the fledgling league. He only touched the football twice in that game, however both times he found the end zone including a 45-yard touchdown catch  and an 11-yard touchdown run as Dallas won easily 27-7.  Hayes followed up his outstanding rookie campaign by setting career-highs of 64 receptions for 1232 yards and 13 touchdowns in 1966.  Though he played on a team geared mostly toward running the ball, Hayes went on to post six seasons of at least 800 receiving yards and went over 10 TDs in a season five times over an 11-year career

The three-time Pro Bowl player made the long bomb a staple in Tom Landry’s offense — of his 71 career touchdown receptions were 50 yards or longer — causing other teams to start looking for their own game-breaker (see the Oakland Raiders) plus causing headaches on the defensive side of the ball. Hayes didn’t just run a “nine” or fly route down the field every snap, but he also went inside in high traffic if needed. In addition to receiving, Hayes also returned punts for the Cowboys and was the NFL’s leading punt returner in 1968 with 20.8 yards per return average and two touchdowns, including a 90-yarder against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame safety and contemporary Larry Wilson paid Hayes a compliment by saying, “The difference between Hayes and other track men was that he used his speed in a ‘football sense’, than just trying to run as fast as possible”. 

During the 1970 season, Hayes put up amazing numbers of 34 catches for 889 yards and 10 TDs in leading the Cowboys to Super Bowl V against the Colts — lost 16-13 on Jim O’Brien’s famous game-winning field goal.  His yards per catch that season were an unthinkable 26.2 yards leading the NFL in that category – which should probably be renamed after him.  The next season in 1971, his last great NFL season, Hayes along with quarterback Roger Staubach and others willed the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl where they defeated the Miami Dolphins by a score of 24-3.  In the game, Hayes only had two receptions for 23 yards and one punt return for minus one yard.  But it was the consistent threat of his speed and his ability to run by the Dolphins’ secondary that kept them on their heels the entire game.  At age 29, Hayes led the Cowboys and the NFL with a scary 24 yards per catch average.

 In total, Hayes would play 10 years for the Cowboys before finishing with one non-descript season for the San Francisco 49ers, retiring at age 33.  Hayes was named first or second team All-NFL four times and led the Cowboys in receptions three times.  The Jacksonville, Florida native had 71 career receiving touchdowns (still a Cowboys record), which places him ahead of hall of famers Michael Irvin and Art Monk. Finished with career numbers of 371 receptions, 7414 yards, and an eye-popping 20 yard per catch average with a long of 95 yards. Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and Bullet Bob is still the only man to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.

Unfortunately on September 18, 2002, Hayes died in his hometown Jacksonville of kidney failure at age 59, after battling prostate cancer and liver ailments.  At the time of his death, it was feared by many that the man that brought true “world class speed” to the NFL might never get his just due of Hall of Fame enshrinement.  For years several voters danced around the issue of Hayes and substance abuse, which occurred after his playing days and also caused a brief prison stay.  Hayes non-selection year after year caused some voting pro football writers to question the whole selection process and in fact Sports Illustrated Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman resigned in 2004 from the selection committee after efforts to enshrine the Bullet had failed again.

Finally the prayers of Hayes’ many supporters were answered when the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s senior committee voted him into football’s highest fraternity in January 2009. It took 29 years after the Bullet first became eligible and seven years after his death, which is a travesty in my book.  But the moment of Hayes induction in Canton will surely be a thrilling one and  you know his former quarterback and fellow Hall of Famer Staubach will do him proud when he presents his former deep-threat for induction. After American football pioneer Jim Thorpe, Hayes will be the second Olympic gold medalist to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. 

Former NFL head coach Mike Ditka, who played with Hayes, said of his former teammate, “I know one thing and I played with him, he changed the game”.  Ditka added, “He made defenses and defensive coordinators work hard to figure out what you had to do to stop him”.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Top 10 Track Athletes that Excelled in the NFL by Lloyd Vance


Former L.A Rams WR/KR and 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Ron Brown is one of the fastest men to ever play in the NFL

In honor of Bullet Bob Hayes going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, here are my top 10 Track Athletes that Excelled in the NFL.

1) Halfback Ollie Matson – A  bronze medal (400-meter run) and a silver medal (4×400-meter relay) winner from the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland –Matson (6′2, 220) was drafted in the first-round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Chicago Cardinals. Matson was a big powerful halfback especially for the NFL of the 1950’s, who was an All-American in football and track at the University of San Francisco and later became one of the best kick returners in NFL history.  Matson’s conversion to the NFL didn’t take much coaching as he had been a stellar running back going back to his youth and  excelled at both sports.  Matson held off on signing his professional contract until after the 1952 games foregoing the plush NFL life for Olympic glory.  However once Matson arrived in the NFL, he was an instant hit for the basement dwelling Cardinals.  In fact at times he was a one-man gang for the Cardinals running, catching, and returning kicks.  Matson’s NFL career spanned 14 years playing for the Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles.  The six time Pro Bowl selection’s career ended at the Pro Football Hall of Fame with unbelievable numbers of 12,884 combined net yards, 5,173 yards rushing, 222 receptions, and nine TDs on punt/kickoff returns and you thought Bears explosive returnman Devin Hester had the total package.  

2) Wide Receiver “Bullet” Bob Hayes  – This amazing receiver revolutionalized the NFL’s view of elite game-breaking speed (Gold Medalist in 100 m and 4X100 relay in 1964 Olympics).  Was identified as the “World’s Fastest Man” after running an amazing 8.6 second relay split in a come from behind victory at the Tokyo Games.  Though he played on a team geared most toward running the ball, Hayes still made the long bomb a staple in Tom Landry’s offense causing other teams to start looking for their own game-breaker and staying up nights designing defenses.  This 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee from Florida A&M had 71 career receiving touchdowns, which places him ahead of hall of famers Michael Irvin and Art Monk. Won a ring with the Cowboys in 1971 helping them win in Super Bowl VI.  Played 10 years for the Cowboys before finishing with one non-descript season for the San Francisco 49ers at age 33.  Finished with career numbers of 371 receptions, 7414 yards, and an eye-popping 20 yard per catch average with a long of 95 yards.

3) Wide Receiver Willie Gault – This speedster played 11 NFL seasons and was one of the first of many University of Tennessee pure-speed fliers (Donte Stallworth, Anthony Miller, Peerless Price and many others) to make it in the league.  Gault (6-0, 181) made the 1980 Olympic team that boycotted, but he did help the U.S 4X100 meter relay team set a world record (37.86 seconds) at the 1983 world championships in Helsinki before taking his act to the NFL as a 1st Rd pick (18th overall by the Bears.   Gault was Bears head coach Mike Ditka vertical threat for fiery quarterback Jim McMahon.  Teams couldn’t load the box against NFL legend Walter Payton as they knew Gault could blaze by them on the outside.  Gault was the Bears main receiver for their 1985 Super Bowl champion team before finishing his career with the Raiders speedy core of receivers.   This eclectic athlete also danced with the Chicago Ballet and was an alternate on 1988 U.S Bobsled team.  Gault acts today plus he is still running well into his forties as he recently set a master’s division (runners aged 45 to 49) world record of 10.72 seconds in the 100 meters shattering the mark of 10.96 set by Neville Hodge in 2001.  His career numbers were solid at 333 receptions for 6,635 yards, a 19.9 ypc average, and 44 TDs with a long of 87 yards

4) Wide Receiver James Jett – The aptly named “Jett” was a 7-time All-American in track and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988 as he ran in the heats for the 4X100 relay team.  Playing for the Raiders for 10 years, Jett was one of the fastest men in the NFL for his entire career.  Signed as an undrafted free agent in 1993, Jett was pretty raw coming out of West Virginia mostly catching “Go” patterns from Major Harris.  But this fast receiver worked hard to establish himself as a polished NFL receiver posting career highs in 1996 of 882 yards on 45 receptions (19.6 ypc) and 6 TDs in 16 starts.  Jett won the NFL Fastest Man Competition following the 1996 season and was a finalist after 1997 season.  His career numbers include 256 receptions for 4417 yards, 17.3 ypc, and 30 TDs with a long of 84 yards.

5) Defensive Back James Trapp – This tough battling defensive back was an amazingly fast and sometimes volatile player on the field, who excelled in the NFL at nickel coverage and special teams.  Trapp (6-0, 195) was a champion track athlete and football player at Clemson (school’s hall of fame). He was an alternate on the 1992 Olympic team in the 4X100 relay and in 1993, plus he won the U.S. Indoor Championship and outdoor world championship both in the 200 meters.  After being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 3rd round (72nd overall) of the 1993 Draft, Trapp went on to an 11-year NFL career (Raiders, Ravens, and Jags).  Trapp won the NFL’s Fastest Man competition after the 1995 season narrowly beating Raiders teammate James Jett.  After the Jon Gruden regime took over, Trapp fell out of favor with the Raiders, but the Baltimore Ravens saw something special in this tremendous athlete.  With the Ravens, Trapp excelled as a gunner on kicks and playing tough in the slot on one of the greatest defenses of all-time.  He was special teams captain of the 2000 Super Bowl Champion team.  Finished his career with 9 INTs and 302 TKLs

6) RB/WR/Special Teams Michael Bates – Selected to the All-NFL 1990’s team as kick returner this former decorated track champion in the PAC 10 and 1992 Olympic Bronze medalist (200 meters) was an impact player in the NFL.  Bates (5-10, 189) was drafted in 1992 by the Seattle Seahawks in the 6th round (150th overall) out of the University of Arizona.  When he first arrived in the NFL the Seahawks didn’t know if the blazing fast speedster was a running back or receiver, but they soon learned his game-breaking speed had to be on the field.  Bates was added to every special teams unit and he never looked back.  Returning kickoffs is where Bates made his mark with the Carolina Panthers earning five Pro Bowl invitations (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000) and one first-team All-Pro selection.  Bates also excelled at covering kicks, which he used his tremendous speed to sprint past everyone. Finished with career numbers in Kickoff Returns of 373 returns for 9110 yards with 5 TDs and a long of 100 also had modest career receiving numbers of 18 receptions for 477 yards (26.5 ypc) and 3 TDs with a long of 80 yards.  

7) WR/KR Raghib “Rocket” Ismail – This guy was so special at Notre Dame –reportedly ran 4.16 in forty while running in pads and full equipment — that teams did everything in their power to not kick the ball to the “Rocket”.  I can still remember Ismail’s (5-11, 180) record-breaking performance returning two kickoffs for touchdowns against Michigan in the 1989 opener after he had been a part-time contributor to the 1988 National Championship team as a freshman.  The Rocket and his brother Qadry “the Missle” single-handedly helped their high school win the Pennsylvania AA track title.  At Notre Dame, Ismail convinced head football coach Lou Holtz to also allow him to run track and the Rocket excelled in the 55 meter indoor race finishing second at the 1991 NCAA Championships.  After college, Ismail went up North chasing Canadian money while playing two years for the Toronto Argonauts (MVP of 1991 Grey Cup Championship).  When it came time to play in the NFL, the Los Angeles Raiders (drafted him in the 4th Rd in 1991 – 100th overall) added Rocket’s speed to their blazing receiving core.  Though not as decorated as in college, the Rocket went on to a nice 9-year NFL career playing for the Raiders, Cowboys, and Panthers.  His career numbers stand at 363 receptions for 5295 yards (14.6 ypc) with 28 TDs and a long of 80 yards.  He also returned 109 Kickoffs for 2334 yards (21.4 ypr), and no touchdowns with a long of 66 yards.

8) WR/KR/RB Eric Metcalf – An all-time favorite of Cleveland Browns’ fans for his multi-threat ability.  Metcalf, who is the son of former St. Louis Cardinals scatback Terry Metcalf, defied his smallish size (5-10, 188) to be one of the most dangerous NFL returners in the 1990’s.  Metcalf was a 3-time Pro Bowl selection and was named an All-Pro twice. Before being draft in the 1st round (13th overall) in 1989 draft, Metcalf excelled at track and football at the University of Texas.  In high school,  Metcalf was a nationally ranked long jumper and is still listed as having the 7th best indoor long jump of any U.S high schooler (25′ 5 ¼).  He also competed against Carl Lewis and others in long jump at the 1988 Olympic trials.  The 13-year NFL veteran played for the Browns, Falcons, Chargers, Cardinals, Panthers, Redskins and Packers.  Metcalf finished his career with 2,392 rushing yards, 541 receptions for 5,572 yards, 3,453 punt return yards, and 5,813 yards returning kickoffs with 55 touchdowns (12 rushing, 31 receiving, 10 punt returns, 2 kickoff returns).

9) DB/KR Allen Rossum – A blazing fast NFL return man who has stuck around the NFL for 11 seasons playing for the Eagles, Packers, Falcons, Steelers, and SF 49ers.  Rossum is a small (5-8, 178) by NFL standards, but he has a knack for creating explosive plays in the return game.  He is a one-time Pro Bowl selection and won the NFL’s Fastest Man competition at the 2005 Pro Bowl.  Rossum was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 3rd round (85th overall) of the 1998 Draft out of Notre Dame.  At Notre Dame, Rossum competed in football and track while earning All-American honors twice after seventh-place finishes in the 55-meter dash at the 1995 and 1997 NCAA Indoor Championships.  Currently on the Niners roster, Rossum’s current numbers stand at Punt Returns: 280 returns for 2749 yards with 3 TDs and a long of 75 yards. Kickoff Returns: 459 returns for 10,520 yards (22.9 avg) with 4 TDs and a long of 98 yards.

 10) WR Johnny (Lam) Jones – I know Jets fans will always say his name as a set of “dirty” words, but Jones excelled first in track and then brought this straight-line speed to the NFL.  Jones (5′ 11, 190) won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay at the 1976 Summer Olympics and he also finished 6th in the 100 meters at the same Olympics after replacing an injured Houston McTear. Jones’ NFL infamy started when the University of Texas sprinter  was drafted by the New York Jets with the second overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft. Needless to say his high draft status always made a big shadow follow him around throughout his six-year NFL career (1980 to 1985).  Jones was always good at getting deep, but he had difficulty catching the football failing to maximize his world-class speed and causing Jets fans to say he played just like a little “Lamb”.  Jones finished his career with 138 receptions for 2322 yards (16.8 ypc) and 13 TDs.

Other World Class Speedsters with NFL experience have included:

Wide Receiver/Kick Returner Ron Brown (1987 NFL’s Fastest Man Winner, Pro Bowl Kick returner for the Rams in ‘85 and in 1984 Olympics finished 4th in 100 Meters and won gold 4 X 100 setting a World Record w/ Carl Lewis, Calvin Smith, and Sam Graddy), WR Alexander Wright (former Auburn speed demon was a two-time winner  of the NFL’s Fastest Man), WR/KR Sam Graddy (5-year NFL veteran playing for the Broncos and Raiders finished 2nd in 100 Meters and won gold in 4 X 100 at ‘84 Olympics), Patrick Johnson (Former Ravens WR once defeated Carl Lewis in a 100 m at the Drake Relays),  John Capel (Won 2003 World Championship in 200 Meters after flaming out with the Bears and Chiefs), Rod Woodson (2009 PFHOF inductee was an All-Big Ten Hurdler at Purdue), Darrell Green (HOF was 3-time NFL’s Fastest Man Winner), Jerome Mathis (Came in second by inches in NFL’s fastest man at ‘06 Pro Bowl), *DeAngelo Hall (Won NFL’s fastest man at ‘06 Pro Bowl), Eric Dickerson (Hall of Fame RB was a college sprint champion at SMU),  Michael Timpson (Former Patriots receiver ran in 1984 Olympic Trials in 200m), Tyrone Wheatley (Former Michigan RB competed in the 1992 Olympic Trials in 110m hurdles), Former Heisman Trophy winner and Cowboys RB Herschel Walker (Ran 10.32 in 100m plus was 7th in the 55m at the 1981 NCAA Indoor Championships),  Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oakland Raider Billy Cannon (Reportedly ran a 9.5 in the 100 yard dash), Bo Jackson (ran a 6.18 in 55m indoors in college and just ask the Seahawks how fast he was on MNF),  Future HOF Deion Sanders (Reportedly ran a 4.19 at ‘89 NFL Combine and there is the legendary story he ran the fastest 100 m in FSU history in baseball pants), Dallas Cowboys WR Richmond Flowers (6-year NFL veteran was a champion hurdler in HS and at Univ of Tennessee), former Falcons QB Michael Vick (Ran a 40-time of 4.25 seconds at VT and a 4.36 seconds at a Falcons Rookie OTA in ‘01), *Devin Hester (Rated a “100″ in speed on ‘08 Madden ratings topping the previous high of 99, given to Deion Sanders), Raiders WR Cliff Branch (Kenny Stabler’s deep threat was said to have beaten Bob Hayes in a race after ‘64 Olympics), *Randy Moss (Said to have run a 4.3 forty at 30 when timed by the Patriots and always seems to have a second gear), Tim Dwight (former Falcons kamikaze kick returner set sprinting records at Iowa in indoor sprints), Qadry Ismail (the “Missle” was a very good hurdler at Syracuse), Jim Hines (1972 Olympic 100m champ played briefly for the Dolphins), *Justin Miller (The Raiders speedy CB/KR won NFL’s fastest man at ‘07 Pro Bowl), Renaldo Nehemiah (Former world record hurdler was part of 1988 Super Bowl Champion 49ers), Dwight Stone (former Steeler could not be overthrown, but was known as “Stone Hands” around Pittsburgh), *Jamaal Charles (KC Chiefs running back was a sprinter at Texas) and *Michael Bennett (former Big 10 track champion in the 60m)

Also look out for LSU explosive small running back/kick returner Trindon Holliday , Cal RB/former Junior Olympic Champion Jahvid Best, Clemson RB CJ Spiller and University of Florida running back Jeff Demps in the next couple of years.

Lloyd’s Leftovers

“The Forty” is the glamour event of the combine as guys want to show the world how fast they are. The player starts from a three-point stance and runs 40 yards as fast as possible. The player is timed in 10, 20 and 40 yard increments. The event is used to gauge a player’s explosion and speed.

Fastest NFL Combine 40-Yard Times

4.12 – Bo Jackson (RB), Auburn – 1986 (Super Dome Combine) 

4.19 – Deion Sanders (DB), Florida State – 1989 (Hand Timed)

4.24 – Chris Johnson (RB), East Carolina – 2008

4.24 – Rondel Melendez (WR), Eastern Kentucky  – 1999

4.28 – Jacoby Ford (WR), Clemson – 2010

4.28 – Jerome Mathis, (WR), Hampton – 2005

4.28 — Champ Bailey, (CB), Georgia — 1999

4.29 – Fabian Washington, (CB), Nebraska – 2005

4.29 —Stanford Routt, (CB), Houston — 2005

4.29 — Jay Hinton, (RB), Morgan State — 1999

4.30 – Darrent Williams, (CB), Oklahoma State – 2005

4.30 – Yamon Figurs, (WR), Kansas State – 2007

Complete list of NFL’s Fastest Man Champions

Darrell Green (1986)

Ron Brown (1987)

Darrell Green (1988)

Darrell Green  (1989)

Alexander Wright (1990)

Alexander Wright (1991)

James Trapp (1995)

James Jett  (1996)

Eddie Kennison (1997)

Allen Rossum (2005 Pro Bowl)

DeAngelo Hall (2006 Pro Bowl)

Justin Miller (2007 Pro Bowl)

***Event has not been held since the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl



Lloyd Vance is an NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Former Olympic Sprinter Justin Gaitlin Works Out at Tennessee’s Pro Day

Former 2004 Olympic 100 meter champion Justin Gaitlin is trying again to impress NFL talent evaluators enough to get a shot at playing on Sundays.  Gaitlin was a participant this week at the University of Tennessee’s Pro Day — reportedly running a best 40-yard dash time of “only” 4.42 seconds, which was less than several players at this year’s combine — in hopes to improve upon his brief mini camp tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007.  In that mini camp he didn’t make the team, but you have to wonder with the NFL’s fascination with “world class” speed that someone will take a flier on him.

Gaitlin, who is considered a long shot by the NFL sources that I have talked to is currently serving a 4-year suspension — reduced from 8 years after an appeal —  for failing a doping test in 2006.  He has only played football sparingly in high school and college so trying to get back into the game at its highest level will be an extremely difficult task. He will most assuredly have to learn how to run differently for route running (football requires short choppy steps and cuts instead of long strides), learn to follow the flight of a ball into his hands while running, and work hours with a juggs gun to help catching the ball.

The league’s fascination with world class speed has always been prevalent and I can still vividly remember my favorite made for television sporting event, “The NFL’s Fastest Man” competition where football road runners Deion Sanders, Darrell Green, Rod Woodson, Willie Gault and others strutted their stuff.  The first attempt to convert “world class speed” goes back to 1952 when former Olympian Ollie Matson signed with the Chicago Cardinals. His conversion ended at the Hall of Fame, but other “speed” prospects have made varying degrees of impact. Matson and former Dallas Cowboys receiver “Bullet” Bob Hayes (fringe hall of fame candidate) are the high water mark and sprinters like John Carlos are at the lower end of spectrum.  Carlos had never played the game before when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1970’s.  The game was so “foreign” to him that he even needed the assistance of a couple of reporters just to put on his pads and uniform when he joined the squad during his brief 1-year stint in the NFL. Other Olympic speedsters that have tried to make it on the gridiron have included: Special Teams Pro Bowler Michael Bates (Panthers), James Jett (Raiders), Sam Graddy (Raiders), Ron Brown (Rams), John Capel (Bears/Chiefs) and others.  Also look out for LSU explosive small running back/kick returner Trindon Holliday (2nd in 2007 NCAA 100 Meters, clocked a 10.02 in the Semi-Final Rd) in the next couple of years.

With Gaitlin running an astonishing 9.77 seconds in the 100 meters, one has to ask “Does pure track speed really have anything to do with the total game of football?” Sure being able to run a fast forty-yard dash makes you a “special player”, but I always want to see how a player performs in pads with someone coming after them with malice in their heart. John Gruden said of Gaitlin at his 2007 tryout “If (his speed) can transfer to football, you have a real threat,” and then he added, “If it can’t, then it won’t work.” Gruden quotes sum up the “world class” speed debate succinctly. Football is a game that requires instincts, quickness, intellect, agility, toughness, awareness, and several other characteristics that can compensate for pure speed. Having blazing speed can get a receiver past someone on a go route, but not being able to stay in bounds, get off a jam, take a hit, or most importantly catching and holding onto a ball can cause a “world class” sprinter to be a non-entity on the football field.

The odds are long against Gaitlin and we will have to wait and see if he can make it. Hopefully he will not hear the same words Capel heard from Dick Vermeil as he was being cut in Chiefs training camp in 2002, the heartful coach said “‘John, you’ve got to go home and do what you’re best at (running)”.