As exciting as it is to watch Usain Bolt sprint, you don’t need to wait for the 2016 Olympics in Rio to catch some of the world’s fastest athletes. Just tune into the MLB, NFL, or NBA and you’ll find guys who make the diamond, gridiron, or hardwood look like an oval track.
Speed is a game changer. In baseball, it’s the difference between giving up a double and snaring a careening fly ball. In football, it’s the difference between going down at the 20 and taking a kick to the house. In basketball, it’s the difference between an easy bucket and a contested layup.
Every team has speedy guys roaming center field or returning kicks or getting back on defense. But who’s the fastest of the fast? It seems an easy thing to figure out. After all, we’ve got plenty of data — from shuttle drills and 40-yard dashes at the combines — to analyze. But not so, err, fast.
Jean Cocteau puts it best. “The speed,” he said, “of a runaway horse counts for nothing.” Getting from Point A to Point B in a drill is one thing, but using that speed to help a team win is another. That means we also have to go to the tape to see who puts his speed to best use. After sifting through both the quantitative and qualitative data, here are seven athletes — three from the NBA, two from the NFL, and two from the MLB — who have wheels and know how to use them, so Don’t Blink: These are the Fastest Athletes in Sports.
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