The title of “fastest man in the NFL” is a battle that has and will continue to rage on into the future. We’ve seen plenty of players with phenomenal speed over the years, all of whom have either said it publicly or to themselves that they are the fastest human being in the NFL.
Recently, former Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson, who played last in 2017 for the Cardinals, staked his claim for being the fastest player to ever step on an NFL field. At the 2008 NFL scouting combine, Johnson set a record (at the time) of 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Johnson seemed to glide so swiftly across those 40 yards, making it look as if he exerted minimal effort. Even more impressive is Johnson moving so fast that the side-view camera struggled to keep him in the frame as he shuttled down the field.
Another player lighting quick feet is Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill is fast… very fast. He knows it, and he is not afraid to tell you about it. He’s so confident in his speed that he now thinks he stands a chance at beating eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt in a race. To be confident in one’s abilities is one thing. But this is a display of pure hubris. Running a 4.29 in the 40-yard dash is one thing but lining up next to Bolt is a different type of beast.
Here are a few more names that belong in this grouping for the fastest players the NFL has ever seen. Deion Sanders, Bob Hayes, Bo Jackson, and Darrell Green.
If you’re familiar with Sanders’ career, then you should know he was not only known for his speed but also for being unarguably the most electrifying player of his era. This is tough to do, being primarily on the defensive side of the ball. Over the years, there have been different reports of Prime Time’s 40 time, ranging anywhere from 4.19-4.29. Sanders’ 40-yard dash stories have become legendary since he ran it before the 1989 draft.
Dallas Cowboys great Bullet Bob Hayes might be the class of this group (in many ways), as he is the only man to have won gold in the Olympics and a Super Bowl championship. At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Hayes ran 10.06 in the 100-meter race, setting a world record. During Hayes’ NFL career, he rightfully owned the claim of being the fastest man in the league, and there wasn’t much anyone could say about that.
Fans, coaches, and players all marveled at Bo Jackson, but it wasn’t only because of his speed. It was due to how fast he moved for his size. At 6-foot-1 and weighing nearly 230 pounds in his playing days, it was unheard of for a man Jackson’s size to run a sub-4.3 40-yard dash in the mid-1980s. Still, the legend goes that Bo ran anywhere from 3.9-4.16 in 1986. During any era of the NFL, speed like that would be considered blazing fast.
Darrell Green played in parts of three different decades, from 1983-2002, all spent in Washington. Along with longevity, Green was also known as one of the fastest players in the NFL during this time. For many years the talk was always about Green and Sanders as to who was faster. It has been reported that Green recorded a 4.09 40-yard dash time early in his career with Washington.
So, who are you taking in a race? In the 100-meter race, my money is on Bullet Bob. In the 40-yard dash, well, I think this one is up for debate, but I’d probably go with Hayes there too.