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Steelers weigh in on Olympic sprinter Bolt

| Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, 7:38 p.m.
REUTERS
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown thinks he could give Olympic record holder Usain Bolt a race. (Reuters)

Usain Bolt doesn't just run like the wind, he is faster than any man in history. His 100-meter dashes last about as long as it takes to flip open a cell phone and dial a number, and he accelerates to a speed that doesn't seem all that much slower than a Jeff Karstens breaking ball.

The nightmarish thought of Bolt lining up as an NFL wide receiver, ready to turn the most innocent looking of passes into the longest of gains, is enough to make Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor believe there might be a better way to make a living.

“I don't know how he does it, I don't know where he gets it from,” Taylor said Tuesday, referring to Bolt's Olympic-record 9.63 time in the 100-meter dash. “That's just too fast.”

NFL players are among the world's fastest athletes — and absentee Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is among the fastest of them — yet a few random Steelers polled aren't ready to predict that Wallace could keep up with Bolt in a 40-yard dash, the league's prime measurement of speed.

“Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world,” wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “He's something else, He ran a 9.8-something just jogging and came back and ran a 9.63. That's definitely supernatural.”

Still, wide receiver Antonio Brown would challenge Bolt if he could.

“Randy Moss is really fast. Mike Wallace is pretty fast, too,” Brown said. “But no question (an NFL player could hang with Bolt). Could I? Possibly, uh, no question.”

Sanders doesn't sound as confident, saying, “Usain Bolt has top-end speed.”

Bolt, also the Olympic 200-meter dash favorite, ran a world-record 9.58 in the 100 in 2009. Since then, sports scientists have attempted to quantify his 40-yard dash time. Their best estimates? Anywhere from an astounding 3.8 seconds to 4.2 seconds.

In that 2009 race, he ran the first 40 yards (35.6 meters) in 4.24 seconds but, based on how the NFL measures players only after they have started moving, a more accurate estimate is 4.11. But Bolt also had the advantage of a starting block, which NFL rookies don't have when they are timed at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Steelers scouts can't recall timing any player in less than the low 4.3s on campus. Titans running back Chris Johnson ran a 4.24 at the combine, Wallace a 4.33. Sanders ran a 4.41; Brown has been timed at 4.47.

Former Olympic sprint champion Bob Hayes, arguably the fastest player in NFL history, apparently never ran an accurately measured 40, but estimates are he could have run a 4.2.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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