Going pro in the NFL doesn’t only mean being a good football player, playing by the rules, and having the best equipment, like the one presented in this Nike Football Cleats review that you might want to read. Discipline, hard work, and talent are just a few of the traits of a professional football player.
But, if you want to make it on top and stay there, you need to be willing to sacrifice every other aspect of your life and keep your eyes on the big prize only.
Going pro means a draconic training regime, a healthy lifestyle, no excesses, studying your opponents, and always being on the field whether for training or playing. Take a look at some of these fast football players and understand how they manage to keep themselves on top.
Why is speed important?
The modern-day NFL, together with all its players, can be characterized by a single word: speed. The faster the players, the more chances of winning. Similar to many other sports, speed kills in the NFL, allowing players to outrun their defenders and find the end zone faster to lead their team to victory.
Traditionally, speed is measured when players leave college by completing a 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine before being drafted. Every year, thousands of great athletes train for a similar test, hoping their speed will increase their market value and allow them to score a contract with a good team.
Out of these thousands, only a few dozens manage to pass all tests and secure a spot at the big boys’ table. The current 40-yard dash record was set back in 2017 by Cincinnati Bengals playmaker, John Ross, who covered the entire distance in 4.22 seconds. Thanks to his performance, his stock rose dramatically.
However, the NFL only switched to electronic timing of the 40-yard dash in 1999, which means that hand times registered before that date were debatable and no longer considered as referral points.
Although these performances are usually held by running backs, in the past few years, wide receivers have also become quicker, as teams are looking to overwhelm defenses with quick-strike offensive attacks for an element of surprise. The strategy is widely used for almost all teams, putting extra pressure on players in all field positions to step up their game and become quicker.
But who is the real cheetah of the NFL? Here is a top with the fastest football players so far.
Top 10 fastest NFL players in 2019
With the 2019 season ending with the Super Bowl event back in February 2021, the Kansas City Chiefs scored their second Super Bowl in the history of the team. However, only two of the team’s players managed to enter the Top 10 of the fastest players last season, which means that it takes a lot more than just good speed to become the best.
Matt Breida from the San Francisco 49ers took the throne last season, reaching a whopping top speed of 22.3 mph. Cordarrelle Patterson from Chicago Bears ranks second, with a top speed slightly under the one of Breida, 22.23 mph.
The third position is held by the Cincinnati Bengals players, Brandon Wilson, with a top speed of 22.03 mph during the 92-yard kickoff return TD event.
As we previously stated, there is only one player from the current owner of the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs, ranking in Top 10, and that’s Mecole Hardman, with a top speed of 21.87 mph. He ranks 7 with that speed but another record of his can be seen on the 10th position, reaching a top speed of 21.74 mph during an 83-yard reception TD event.
Sammy Watkins, from the same KC Chiefs team, appears on the list inside the Top 20. Tyreek Hill, 24, doesn’t make the official list but is known for other skills.
In a win over the Vikings during the 9th week of the NFL 2019 season, KC Chiefs running back Damien Williams managed to score on a 91-yard touchdown run. It is a rare case to see someone other than the scorer who gets the cheers on a touchdown, but, in this case, Hill outran Williams.
He managed to catch up and even pass him on the play, showcasing his amazing speed. On that day, Hill reached a top speed of 22.64 mph.
Who is the fastest NFL player of all time?
As we previously mentioned, the NFL switched to electronic timing only in 1999, which makes other previous scores questionable, to say the least. Therefore, deciding on the fastest football player of all times is a difficult task.
Bob Hayes, also known as the “Bullet”, holds the title of the only NFL player in history to have won both a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal. He was part of the Dallas Cowboys team and won Super Bowl 6. It was the first-ever Super Bowl championship won by the Cowboys, back in 1972.
Eight years earlier, at the 1964 Olympics, the same Hayes competed and won in the 100-meter dash, at 10.06 seconds, and continues to hold the world record for the 70-meter dash to this day. He is not only considered one of the fastest athletes ever, but also amongst the only ones to have a different athletic career, as a professional football player in the NFL.
Bo Jackson is another NFL legend who allegedly ran a 4.13 second at the 40-yard dash in the 1986 NFL Combine. However, as the record was set before 1999, taking him into account could be difficult.
We have already talked about the one who currently holds the record as the fastest football player in the NFL since 1999, John Ross from the Cincinnati Bengals. Before his record in 2017, Chris Johnson was considered the fastest player at the 40-yard dash, counting for only 4.24 seconds.
How do they do it?
As we previously mentioned, being a part of the NFL doesn’t come cheap or easy. Thousands of college superstars dream to turn pro at an early age but only a few manage to make the switch, and even fewer become legends.
If you ask us how football players manage to be so fast, the answer isn’t simple at all. Speed is one of the most important elements and, with the right type of training and gear, a player can slightly improve his stats. However, speed is also influenced by a player’s physical construction, the length of his feet, and his age.
Diet also plays an important role, and this is why most NFL players work closely with nutritionists to boost their performance on the field and always be on top of the game. Depending on the position they are playing and where they are in their training, a regular football player requires between 4,000 and 6,000 calories a day.
There are also exceptions, like the former Tennessee Titan defensive tackle, Torrie Griffin, who ate as much as 8,000 calories per day to maintain his impressive weight of 280 pounds.
There is no secret that NFL players must be strong and well-built, otherwise, they wouldn’t stand more than a game on the field, given the amount of pressure and energy put in any play for victory.
For a football player, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and also the moment where he can eat as much as he wants. However, the diet is rather strict, mainly based on proteins. Apart from protein bars and other supplements to boost their body muscles, NFL players eat a lot of lean meat, usually grilled chicken, turkey, and low-fat foods.
Carbs also make for a considerable part of their daily diets, as this is where they get their energy from. Therefore, pasta, brown rice, and potatoes are often found in their menus but always paired with healthy-cooked meat and a side of veggies.
Finally, consistent training is what keeps players motivated to perform better and always push their limits. Depending on where they are in the season, NFL players can train up to three hours per day on the field and another one-two hours off the field, at the gym.
Many players also keep a strict lifestyle, and they often pass on other physical activities and sports that might cause injuries. Extreme sports are mainly prohibited, so is any physical activity without consulting their doctor or personal trainer first. Swimming and jogging are considered beneficial both for recovery and for staying in shape off-season.
To sum up, you don’t get to become one of the fastest football players in the NFL without a strong discipline and an iron will. Age and physical condition also help but, apart from everything else, you need the motivation to push your limits.