Mike Rodgers is waiting for this moment.
For years, the 36-year-old sprinter has heard television pundits describe the speed of some NFL players as “world class,” or gawk at 40 yards of running time during the Reconnaissance Combine. league. He’s seen NFL players decide to “talk about all this Twitter trash” about the speed of a professional sprinter.
“Football players have no idea,” Rodgers said at a press conference Thursday.
That’s why he – and many others in the athletic community – are so excited for the U.S. Track and Field Golden Games on Sunday, when Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf takes on seasoned pros in the 100. meters.
They see it as a chance to show the NFL what real world class speed looks like.
“I mean, I’m not ruling out DK in any way,” said Rai Benjamin, a 400-meter hurdler who will be among the favorites for the medal at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. “I think he’s a phenomenal athlete and it takes a lot of guts and guts to fight against the guys who are on the pitch.
“(But) I think it’s going to be a really eye-opening sight this weekend, as to what it’s really like to compare track speed to the NFL.”
Metcalf, 23, was on the track team at Oxford High School (Miss.) And ran the 40-yard scoreboard in an impressive 4.33 seconds on the NFL combine. This is considered elite speed for a professional football player, and especially one with the build of Metcalf; The Seahawks wide receiver is listed at 6’4 and 235 pounds.
The speed of world-class sprinters, however, is at the next level.
Rodgers, who will also compete in the 100-meters on Sunday, explained that Metcalf will struggle in part because of his lack of training. NFL receivers work on explosiveness and rapid changes of direction, to create separation from defensive backs. They don’t usually work on the mechanics and technique of sprinting, or how to distribute speed evenly over a specific distance.
“I think his biggest problem will be leaving,” Rodgers added. “Because in the 40-meter dash, you can start when you want to start. He’s going to take care of the start, the starting blocks, stuff like that.”
Rodgers also noted that 40 yards is only a third of the distance Metcalf traveled on Sunday.
Asked about his prediction, Rodgers said he set the “over-under” for Metcalf’s time at 10.3 seconds. For comparison: Rodgers’ personal best is 9.85. And the world record, set by Usain Bolt in 2009, is 9.58.
Metcalf would need to eclipse 10.05 seconds to earn an automatic invitation to next month’s Olympic trials, which is highly unlikely.
Renaldo Nehemiah, a track agent and former hurdler who also played briefly in the NFL, described Metcalf’s run this weekend to the Associated Press as “a noble gesture but an exercise in futility.”
“There isn’t a sprinter in the world who will let this guy think he can run with them. They will destroy him,” said Nehemiah.
“I applaud (Metcalf) for wanting to know – and find out that he will.”