Adidas Offers $1 Million for Breaking 40-Yard Dash Record at NFL Combine
By Burt Carey
For eight years prospective NFL combine participants have been trying to beat Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash record of 4.24 seconds. This year Adidas sweetened the pot.
The apparel company announced this week that any player who breaks the record will be paid $1 million. There is a catch, however: The athlete has to set the record wearing Adidas footwear.
Johnson, now a running back for the Arizona Cardinals, set the record in 2008.
Others have come close, but no one has beat Johnson’s time. In 2014, Dri Archer, a New York Jets player who doubles as a running back and wide receiver, crossed the finish line in 4.26 seconds, tying the effort of Jerome Mathis in 2005. Mathis was drafted by the Houston Texans and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, but injuries cut his career short.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver/kick returner Marquise Goodwin recorded a time of 4.27 seconds in 2013, and Jacoby Ford ran 4.28 in 2010. Ford signed with the Oakland Raiders and is currently a free agent.
This isn’t the first time Adidas has promised large payouts at the NFL combine. An effort last year to give away Porsches in a cheetah paint scheme was nixed by the NFL because of the league’s contractual obligation to General Motors. Instead Adidas presented $100,000 checks to Trae Waynes (Vikings), Philip Dorsett (Colts) and Kevin White (Bears), the three fastest athletes in the 40-yard event who wore Adidas footwear.
In 2014 Adidas gave Brandin Cooks $100,000 for being the fastest Adidas-wearing football prospect. Cooks plays for the New Orleans Saints.
Adidas began its fastest-combine runner campaign in 2013 by offering an endorsement deal to any player who broke Johnson’s record. The company’s announcement this year does not include an endorsement contract.
CBS Sports reports that of the 300 prospects who will compete at the NFL combine this year, only one has come within a tenth of a second of the record. Willie Quinn of Southern University reportedly has run the 40 in 4.34 seconds.
NFL great Bo Jackson was recorded at 4.12 seconds during the 1986 combine, but because his time was kept on a hand-held stopwatch, it isn’t considered the official record.
The NFL combine will be held Feb. 23-29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Image: Chris Johnson