Now that the Olympics are over, there's one very fast young man looking at one very long layoff before resurfacing in Rio in four years.
Hey, Usain Bolt! You want to play in the NFL?
Bob Hayes, gold medal winner in the 100 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Games and dubbed world's fastest human, did it. So did Renaldo Nehemiah, world record-holder in the 110-meter hurdles who missed the 1980 Moscow Games because of a U.S. boycott.
Sure, money would be an issue. And it's questionable whether you'd be willing to put on pads, practice every day, learn to catch footballs while running at world-record speed, and then deal with getting slammed to the ground by defenders.
Nonetheless, think about this:
Hayes became the first Olympic champion to make it big in pro football. He was a wide receiver for nine years with the Dallas Cowboys, and a two-time All-Pro. He was so fast that defenses abandoned man-to-man coverage and came up with zone defenses in an attempt to keep him in check. He's now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Nehemiah didn't have as much success in his four years as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers, but he was a hurdler after all, and not the fastest runner on the planet.
You get the idea, though, and teams desperate for deep threats might be willing to take a look. Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix would.
"He'd have to be interested, that would be the first step," Nix said of Bolt, adding that he's not sure the Jamaican is an American football kind of guy.
"I know he's interested in playing soccer," Nix said before adding with a smile that he doubts Bolt would turn to football because "they hit you in football. Track guys sometimes don't like that."
However, he says, "I don't know if he does or not (want to play), but if he does, you'd sure have to cover deep."
Minnesota Vikings special teams coordinator Mike Priefer chimed in about Bolt as a kick returner.
"I'm not going to say he can't, because he's big, he's strong and he can run," Priefer said. "I don't want to say that he can't do it. Because he's a heck of a lot faster than anybody else in the world."
Here's a Pick 6 of teams that could use a jolt of Bolt:
With Chad Johnson gone, the Dolphins could use an attention-grabbing receiver right now, if nothing else than to keep viewers tuned in to HBO's "Hard Knocks." Seriously, with Miami's receivers seemingly dropping more balls than they are catching, it might be worth seeing what Bolt could do. We even asked new coach Joe Philbin what he thought of Bolt. And true to head coaching form, Philbin didn't know much about the guy who just dazzled the world with a second straight three-gold-medal Olympics.
"I haven't even watched the Olympics, but I do remember Bob Hayes, great receiver," Philbin began. "If you have any tape, what'd he run? Was he a 100-meter guy? 6-foot-5?"
Laughing, he added, "I'll bring the tape up to Jeff (GM Jeff Ireland) and see what he says."
NEW YORK JETS
How can owner Woody Johnson or coach Rex Ryan resist? Guaranteed tabloid back page forever if this happens. Tim Tebow to Usain Bolt, 99 yards, touchdown. Cool? Not? Practice would be a blast, too. Bolt streaking down a sideline, and the likes of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie trying to keep up. Priceless.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco (now known as jobless Chad Johnson) played for Bill Belichick, and now the Pats are looking at former Giants and Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress. Clearly, a big-play, big-name receiver is on someone's wanted list, so why not Bolt? Even better than Tebow to Bolt, how does Brady to Bolt sound?
A team that traditionally looks at any option, why not this one? Even with the death of maverick owner Al Davis, new Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie would stir things up if Bolt were decked out in Silver and Black. Of course, the Raiders have to come up with an accurate passer from the trio of Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor.
They brought Bullet Bob Hayes to the NFL, so why wouldn't owner Jerry Jones consider trying to woo Bolt to America's Team? Heck, they'd become Jamaica's Team, too. Adding some intrigue to this option, there are issues surrounding star receiver Dez Bryant, who has a hamstring problem and could still be disciplined by the NFL or the Cowboys following his arrest last month for allegedly assaulting his mother.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
How great this would be: The Rams show up at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 28 to play the Raiders, and guess who's suiting up? (He could end up a Raider for this one, too). If nothing else, this could turn into quite a return to London for Bolt a little more than two months after he blazed to gold in the 100 and 200 meters and anchored the winning 4x100 relay team. Even with a slew of receivers, from deep threat Danario Alexander and the return of Danny Amendola, a Sam Bradford-to-Bolt sideshow is appealing.
AP Sports Writers Steven Wine in Miami, John Wawrow in Buffalo, N.Y., and Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
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