After his promising NFL career was cut short because of continued and worsening concussion symptoms, former Cal football running back Jahvid Best has again found a sport to dominate. The former Detroit Lions first-round draft pick will be running track for St. Lucia in Rio de Janeiro next month, making him the first ever former NFL player to compete in the summer games.
While at Cal, Best filled up the stat sheet. Over his three years in the blue and gold, Best ran for 29 total touchdowns — including a modern team record five in a 2009 game against Minnesota — and always showed a knack for the long run. The longest carry of his collegiate career was a 93-yard scamper, but he also racked up rushes of 80 and 86 yards on his way to 2,668 total yards as a Bear.
Best entered the 2009 draft as a potential home run hitter at the next level, a rare player with the instincts to get to the second level and the speed to make the secondary look silly in the open field. While he had his fair share of highlight plays in the NFL, concussions always sidelined him just as he was beginning to realize his potential. He was forced into early retirement from the NFL and faced a sudden future of athletic doubt.
He would soon begin training in track and field, a sport in which he excelled in high school in Richmond, California, and quickly began qualifying for Olympic trials. At the Arnie Robinson Invitational in San Diego, he qualified for the Olympics with a personal best time of 10.16 seconds in the 100-meter.
Now, despite the disappointment that plagued the beginning of his athletic career, that former Bear standout has punched his ticket to Rio as an Olympian.
Austin Isaacsohn is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].