Most track fans know that football 40y times are inflated. T&FN touches on this from time to time. But I wonder what these guys really run?
When timing their athletes, I believe football coaches start their watches when a guy lifts his arm out of his three-point stance. If a track person started timing him at that point and and then had an accurate time at the finish, I wonder what the time of a supposed 4.3 sprinter would really be?
Also, any ideas what top sprinters would run for 40 yards? Times for 40 yards *during* a 100m race have been written about, but you'd have to think that a sprinter's 40y time would be a little faster if he were running *only* 40 yards.
Just looking for some ammo for the football board I frequent.
1) 40y times even in football are silly since rarely does a player run 40y in a straight line.
2) I think you are correct in terms of how the timing occurs, but it really does not matter as long as everyone is timed the same way.
3) If track guys want to make a big deal about being faster, then I propose a sprinter and a WR race each other and then they each have to run a route, catch a ball and take a hit from a free safety or linebacker.
Many track guys have tried to play football and Bob Hayes (who did both in college) is one of the few successes at both. Willie Gault was close; Herschel Walker never really made it as a track guy (although he did as a bobsledder!).
You make good points. Wasn't 'sure first ballot hall-of-famer' Rod Woodson an accomplished hurdler? I believe he finished high in the trials and certainly is accomplished on the field. I'm sure there are others but he was the first that came to mind as outstanding in each sport.
Take Marcus Trufant for example. Drafted in first round by Seahawks this year. He was a senior at a HS in my league when I was a freshman. Remember competing against him. He consistently ran 10.9h (everybody runs 10.9 in high school right?) in the 100 and ended up at 47+ TJ. But his 40 time from this year is listed as 4.38. That seems pretty quick for a guy who only ran 10.9h in HS. Either gotten a lot faster or never came close to his potential on the track.
If the timing method is start your watch when they lift the hand, that means you've removed the reaction time of hthe athlete right off the top, so theres a 10th gained.
Figure also that the timers are so eager to get it right that they anticpate to the max and click theminute the guy hits the line, sted of actually reacting to his getting there. So there's as much as another 0.3 there.
So, easy to posit that a "4.3" is really a 4.7 in terms of what a true track situation would generate. And we won't even talk abou the silliness of using hand watches to give 100th-second timing!
Don;t Forget Mark Duper (NCAA relay finalist), James Trapp NCAA finalist 100 m,Travis Hannah and Curtis Conway NCAA finalists 1992 4 x 400 with Quincy Watts, Michael Bates 1992 bronze medalist who put training camp with Carolina on hold for Barcelona. The forty is a measurement for ACCELERATION not speed. Consider "Rocket" Ismail for then Notre Dame who ran a 10.65 at MSAC later that academic year after he made the cover of SI for his gridiron prowess.
Joe Delaney....a teammate of Dupers.
All those listed were 9.4 guys or faster in the 100 yards. I'd say all could cook a 4.5 40.
>Take Marcus Trufant for example. Drafted in
>first round by Seahawks this year. He was a
>senior at a HS in my league when I was a
>freshman. Remember competing against him. He
>consistently ran 10.9h (everybody runs 10.9 in
>high school right?) in the 100 and ended up at
>47+ TJ. But his 40 time from this year is listed
>as 4.38. That seems pretty quick for a guy who
>only ran 10.9h in HS. Either gotten a lot faster
>or never came close to his potential on the
Considering he went to college and got involved in a very good strength and conditioning program and the timing is different (eliminating the delay), then I am not surprised that he got faster. In fact, that is exactly what SHOULD happen.
When I was in college running the 110HH and doing the jumping events, the coach decided that one day he was going to time us in the 40 using the ACUTRACK timer. The football team got wind of this and decided that they would come and show us track guys who was really the fastest.
Turns out all of those guys that ran 4.2 and 4.3 hand timed 40s, really ran 4.5 and 4.7 on the ACUTRACK machine. The fastedst time that day went to our 100 meter guy who clocked in at a 4.4. His top tiem in the 100m was 10.20.
i agree with you and you provide good evidence. the 10.2 sprinter would beat the majority of football players. most of the fastest guys in the nfl have been former sprinters and hurdlers. however, most of them have lost at least two steps in the career due to the nature of football. in a recent t&f news issue jj johnson mentioned that he was stiff after spending only a few months with an nfl team. there is no question that sprinters are faster, but very few of them have had successful nfl careers. kind of seems like a waste of their talent. even fewer came back to track after football, i think nemeiah had a successful return to track in his 30s and got a bronze in 95.
>When I was in college running the 110HH and doing
>the jumping events, the coach decided that one
>day he was going to time us in the 40 using the
>ACUTRACK timer. The football team got wind of
>this and decided that they would come and show us
>track guys who was really the fastest.
Turns out all of those guys that ran 4.2
>and 4.3 hand timed 40s, really ran 4.5 and 4.7
>on the ACUTRACK machine. The fastedst time that
>day went to our 100 meter guy who clocked in at
>a 4.4. His top tiem in the 100m was 10.20.
>don't put any faith in 40 times.
When I want to impress my students, I point out my poster of Allen Johnson, and tell them that his AR is THREE CONSECUTIVE 40y each in 4.3, with
ten hurdles in the way. (I conveniently ignore the acceleration issue.)
I remember that Ben Johnson's 1987 "WR" was broken down into 10 meter increments. If you take out reaction time and the effect of automatic timing, he was probably ran about 3.7 at 40y. And he was only as doped-up as the average NFLer . . .
Math's not my strong suit, but using figures from the November '87 T&FN, when Ben Johnson ran his WR 9.83 at the '87 World Champs he went through 30m in 3.80 and 40m in 4.66. So his average speed in that 10m segment was 11.6mps.
Assuming that as a constant he would therefore have passed the 36.6m (40y) point in 4.37. (I think)
And that with a just-legal reaction time of 0.109. Football times are totally irrelevant to a track reality, but they do (sigh) make sense for that world; so long as everybody is using the same rules, it's the relative difference that they care about, so they'll never change it.
>Math's not my strong suit, but using figures from
>the November '87 T&FN, when Ben Johnson ran his
>WR 9.83 at the '87 World Champs he went through
>30m in 3.80 and 40m in 4.66. So his average speed
>in that 10m segment was 11.6mps.
>that as a constant he would therefore have passed
>the 36.6m (40y) point in 4.37. (I think)
>that with a just-legal reaction time of 0.109.
Your math is correct. Take off .11 for reaction and 0.24 for automatic timing and it's about a 4.0.
I read an article about the timing but can't find it anywhere on the web.
The gist of the article was that at the start the runner's hand depresses a pad. When the hand leaves the pad, timing starts. Timing ends in the same manner as the conventional dashes. At the top colleges (Miami, Florida State, etc.), trainers specifically train players how to keep one hand on the pad for as long as possible while still making an all-out start.
The article had speculation about how much this
starting scheme saved over the conventional gun, but I don't remember any hard numbers.
I've read a couple things about Ben Johnson as well. One article stated that some analysts used video footage of his 9.79 in Seoul to get his 40 yard time. It was a 4.26.
It's kind of funny the way it works. Each year, there are approximately 20-30 high school football players who are "timed" at 4.3. That means there are 20-30 high school students each year who are purportedly nearly as fast as the NFL chemically enhanced fastest man in the world. Whatever.
There is no doubt that there are many fast football players, as many on this board have noted. Many are former sprinters and most running backs can turn in a 10.4-10.6h just off of the training they do for football. If they underook a real track training program, most of them could run at least that fast w/automatic timing.
However, no way are they faster than elite level sprinters, with several exceptions. These posts have forgotten to mention James Jett, the Raiders wideout who beat Carl Lewis at the 1992 Oly trials (however, Lewis had a stomach virus that day).
In football it's not just the time but the SIZE that counts.
Back in early 1990, I was finishing track practice at Ole Miss and a friend of mine, Tony Bennett was training on the practice football field for a Pro football combine. Tony was an all american and later a star in the NFL at Defensive End with Indy (and later Green Bay before Reggie). Tony asked me to time him the 40y, as he only trusted a Track guy with giving him an accurate time. He said to start the timing at his first movement. Now I had always watched Tony play from the stands and this was the first time I was this close to him when he was in foll flight. I can't begin to tell you how scary it was as a 5'7" 130 lb. distance runner to have a 6'4" 260 lbs. man (who had even less body fat that me) come at you at top speed. I hand timed him at 4.5 secs for the 40y (on grass). Which is what he ran at the combine and is very fast for someone that size. From that day forward I new respect for QB's who have multiple guys that size going full bore at them every play.
As I can not attest to its not just the speed but the size that is impressive.
Also remeber that these times are on grass which is a significantly slower surface for a sprinter.
Was wondering when someone would mention Jett - who I believe also got a Gold on a 4 x 1 - also M. Bates - kick return and 200m, James Lofton, LJ and 200m - pretty good wide receiver at in his mid 40's now still runs around 50 flat in 400 - always loved it when they talked about Deon being the fastest, or so fast - he was a 10.21 100m I believe - Donald Driver was a 7'7" HJ range guy -
Lofton also ran a 45 sec relay leg while at Stanford...and Wesley Walker ..WR with the NY Jets also ran a few 45 sec legs while at Cal..the list is endless with Footballers who ran track..and then there are the tracksters who played football. Big diffrence between the two.
Yes, Woodson was a legit Football/trackster..he won the Big 10 indoors 55m/55HH double in very fast times. And outdoor champion in the 110HH..might have done it more than once in the Big 10..and placed high in the ncaa`s I think .....great athlete
Of course, it doesn't matter how football 40 times relate to track; the football people don't care. They need a constant by which they can judge the players, and so long as they're all using the same (flawed) timing method, it works just fine.
>Football times are totally irrelevant to a track
>reality, but they do (sigh) make sense for that
>world; so long as everybody is using the same
>rules, it's the relative difference that they
>care about, so they'll never change it.
Unfortunately, even though everybody may be using the same "rules," hand timing's more-serious drawback is that it is not consistent. People's reaction times vary considerably, and then there is the issue of stopping the watch in anticipation of the runner reaching the line or waiting to actually see him reach it before starting to stop one's watch. So football 40's that would be timed the same with auto-timing might be 2-3 tenths different with hand timing.
As always, right you are, Alan. Being the elitist pig that I am, my statement was couched from the point of view of "real" 40y times as taken at the Combine, where they indeed use pressure-pad technology. These, far as I know, usually tend to be slower than reported out of the colleges (just as guys get shorter and lighter and weaker). (Which is why, of course, they have a Combine in the first place!)
Ahh, collegiate sports, a place where virtues like honesty are so paramount.
The problem isn't even consistency, it's the blatant self-delusion that their 40 times actually compare to anything outside of football. They can lie to themselves all they want as long as they keep it in house, but I'm tired of the public and even sportswriters (who should know better, but obviously don't - even SI has erred in this department) thinking that football players, the best athletes in the world (sic), are faster than track athletes, because of those 40 times. My favorite line is so-and-so has 'world class' speed - come to find out he ran a 10.29 in the NAIA.
"The problem isn't even consistency, it's the blatant self-delusion that their 40 times actually compare to anything outside of football. They can lie to themselves all they want as long as they keep it in house, but I'm tired of the public and even sportswriters (who should know better, but obviously don't - even SI has erred in this department) thinking that football players, the best athletes in the world (sic), are faster than track athletes, because of those 40 times. My favorite line is so-and-so has 'world class' speed - come to find out he ran a 10.29 in the NAIA."
First of all, I don't think most legitamite sports writers actually think football players are faster than track atheletes. The problem is more that sports writers don't care about track, and therefore don't think to mention it. A statement by a sports writer that "so-and-so football player is fast" does NOT mean that "so-and-so football player is faster than Tim Montgomery." It simply means what it says: that the player is fast.
Second, football players are much better all-around atheletes than track sprinters. Imagine a 6-3, 250 pound man who can bench-press 500 pounds, run 100 meters in sub-11 seconds, tear down a basketball rim, change directions with frightening quickness and has the grace and balance of a ballet dancer. That description pretty much characterizes your standard NFL linebacker.
Track sprinters, on the other hand, are good at running in a straight line and that is pretty much it.
I don't know if NFL players are the best all-around athletes in any sport, but they are certainly near the top.
Finally, 10.29 is pretty damn good time. In a lot of countries, you would be king of the mountain with that time. Our standards are skewed by the fact that we live in the U.S., which has a glut of top sprinters. I doubt that there are too many people who post on this board that run or ran 10.29, and I therefore don't think that this is the place to be talking trash about it.
a. Sportswriters DO brag that the fastest men on the planet are in the NFL.
b. Football players may well be better all-around athletes - that's not the issue here.
c. 10.29 is a VERY fast time, but it's not world class. It's not even national class, i.e. 100 meter finalist at USATF. Yet sportswriters blithely refer to player X as one of the fastest men on the planet.
d. at what point was I talking trash?
The point I was TRYING to make is that people DO use 40 times to make comparisons outside of track and it is, of course, nonsense.