The Fastest 40 Yard Dash Ever

What Research Found Out On This Very Important Topic

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Football fans across America continue to obsess over the most simple drill in the game of football. Is there anything more discussed than the 40 yard dash? Every Spring, this drill takes center stage and undoubtedly the question is asked 1,o00’s of times. What’s the fastest 40 yard dash?

Just as sure as you get the question asked 1,000 times, you will get dozens of ridiculous answers. For starters, let’s find out why the 40 yard dash? When and why did 40 yards become so significant? It started in the 1960’s with the NFL team that had the most developed and comprehensive scouting department and that was the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to this time period, NFL coaches chose the 50 yard dash as the mark of measure to determine a player speed worthiness. In 1960, Gil Brandt, the director scouting for the Cowboys along with his department came up with the 40/20/10 measurement. The 40 was used for all players. The 20 yard split time of the 40 was of great significance for linemen since the thought was that they rarely run 40 yards in a game. The 10 yard split was important for wide receivers as a measure of their burst off of the line of scrimmage. With this, a drill was born and almost 50 years later, it has become the center piece of info on a prospective high school, college or professional football player.

So who had the fastest 40 yard dash ever? Research confirmed what I already knew and that there is no way to really tell. Here are some important things to know about the 40 yard dash:

Run your fastest 40 ever. Click on the pic.

– A hand time (use of a stop watch) will usually be faster than an electronic time

– There are two types of electronic times:

1. When a watch is started by a coach and an electronic beam records the time when it picks up the player crossing the end point

2. When an electronic beam picks up the movement of a player from the start and starts the clock. An electronic beam also detects the player at the end point and stops the clock. This time will be slower than version #1 and even slower than a hand time in which a coach starts his stop watch when he sees the player begin the run and then stops the watch when he sees the player cross the finish line.

– An accurtrack time will be the slowest of all. Accutrack is what is used at track meets. The clock in accu-track timing starts when the starter’s pistol is shot. The runner’s time for the event is recorded digitally when the technology detects the player crossing the finish line.

Studies have shown that that average reaction time by a human to a starter’s pistol is .25 seconds. For this reason, anyone who compares a 40 yard split time in a 100 meter event and compares it to reported hand timed 40 yard dash marks is making a big mistake. If you want compare the 40 yard split of a runner in a 100 meter event, subtract .25 seconds from the recorded time. So, Olympic runner Justin Gatlin’s 4.42 forty yard dash split recorded during his Gold Medal winning 9.85 100 meter run, would convert to a 4.17 forty yard dash by football standards.

After much research a few things have come up over and over and over. These things plus my own two eyes would lead me to believe that Darrell Green, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders were the fastest football players to ever play the game.

It has been said consistently that Darrell Green recorded a time of 4.09 at the Washington Redskins’ training camp in 1986. That’s a hard time to swallow but Green’s obvious speed has been put on display many times while he was in the NFL. Green ran down from significant distances two of the fastest running backs to play in the NFL (Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson). Green has said in interviews that the fastest time he has ever been aware of running is 4.15. To his credit, Green does have a verifiable and official time of 10.08 in the 100 meters while he was a college student at Texas A&I University. If anyone could run a sub 4.1 forty, it was Darrell Green.

Many sources report a 4.12 forty yard dash time for Bo Jackson and if you watched him turn the corner and run down the sidelines in 1987 versus the Seattle Seahawks, you would not doubt any time reported by this freak of nature. Repetition does not make it a fact but if enough sources have reported this time to make me believe it. Jackson has an official 10.39 time in the 100 meter dash in college.

Deion Sanders has the closest thing of the three as a verifiable 40 yard dash time. Sanders ran a 4.21 forty yard dash at the 1989 NFL combine and kept right on going through the finish line into the first round of that year’s NFL draft. Like Green and Jackson, anyone who watched Sanders play would have little trouble believing that Sanders pulled off this feat. Sanders recorded a 10.21 100 meter mark while at Florida St.

Of course there are scores of reported 40 yard dash times that have made the rounds on the Internet. Some are ridiculous like the 3.9’s attached to a couple of players and some 4 flats that were attached to some others.

Here are some of the problems with reported 40 yard dash times from team workouts. Some times you can’t be sure that the distance run was indeed 40 yards. There’s always the chance that the distance was not properly marked. When teams do individual private workouts for teams, often times the scout has not brought the necessary tool to mark off the distance. There’s also the chance that player’s will cheat the distance. I have first hand knowledge of a player starting in front of the starting point to run a forty, fully taking advantage of the fact that there was only one scout on hand and that he could not tell if the player was indeed starting at the correct mark. Another problem is the angle of the surface. There are plenty of practice fields across the country that have a slope. Coaches see great value in having their players run on a slight decline to record eye popping times. Savvy scouts will insist that players run up one way and then down the other. An average of the two times is taken to get the most accurate time. One other problem is that some players run the 40 yard dash with cleats on grass while other places have their players run on a synthetic track with spikes on. Guess who would record the fastest time.

In my personal experiences, I have seen some sub 4.3 forty yard dashes in my time. Kevin Williams of the University of Miami (1989-92) ran a 4.28 forty yard dash before my own eyes. Former Hurricanes Tremain Mack (4.25) and Al Shipman (4.27) ran sub 4.3 forties before my own eyes. Track star Henry Neal recorded a 4.20 forty yard dash before my own eyes in a workout for the Miami Dolphins in 1996. The Dolphins did not sign Neal since his football background was quite limited. I never watched him run an actual 40 yard dash but after having to cover him in training camp, I am inclined to believe every second of Joey Galloway’s reported 4.18 forty yard dash.

One player that is not on the list is Bob Hayes of the Dallas Cowboys. No doubt, Hayes was one of the fastest men, if not

the fastest man to put on an NFL uniform. However, as it relates to the 40 yard dash, I could find no time recorded for this Olympic Gold medalist. Hayes has the fastest 100 meter time for an NFL player at 10.05. Should current Florida Gator Jeffery Demps make it to the NFL for any significant amount of time, he will own the fastest time at 10.01. Demps ran this as a high schooler and owns the national prep record for the event.

The fastest recorded 40 yard split on record belongs to Olympian Maurice Greene. During his World Record 60 meter run of 6.33, a mark that still exists, Green crossed the 40 yard mark at 4.18. Remembering that .25 seconds must be subtracted from that time due to Accu-track timing and you come up with a 40 yard dash time of 3.93 seconds. What’s the problem with that time? It was run on an indoor track with spikes on giving the runner an advantage over the football players who have run on grass with cleats.

In an effort to centralize all the reported 40 yard dash times. I will start what we call the SUB 4.3 Club. I will attempt to keep a running record of the sub 4.3 forty yard dashes and their owners in this list. I will refrain from adding times of the ridiculous and will do some research on all times that qualify. I will say one thing, can you web surfers stop reporting that Deion Sanders ran a 4.57 forty yard dash backwards. That’s just flat out ridiculous.

Enjoy the following list of reported (and somewhat believable) 40 yard dashes run under 4.3 seconds. We will continue to add on to this list over time. Did I miss someone? Comment on this article and make your case. Please do not quote high school forty yard dash times. Nothing against them, let’s just stick to college and pro football right now.

Listings in bold are new ones added since last update.

Note Updated: 4/19/21:  Two new additions to the all time list.  Anthony Schwartz wide receiver from Auburn (4.25) and Eric Stokes defensive  back from Georgia (4.29). Of course,  you all know that there was no combine this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  This means that the only thing we had were pro day times.  Much has been said and speculated about the pro day results.  I will make this careful observation based on what I know,  I’ve seen and I’ve heard.

With no combine,  players had more time to prepare.  That alone will yield better results.  In addition,  the combine is a rigorous process that does not lend itself to tip top athletic results by all.  Some manage that process better than others for a number of reasons.

The biggest discrepancy with the times seems to have come from agents and schools trying to promote their players vigorously in an attempt to boost their draft stock.  As such,  I did my research and found the sources that I could trust on the times and went with those.  At the end of the day,  these two athletes seem to have been the ones whose sub 4.3 times are able to stick.  Both Schwartz and Stokes were high school sprint stars running 10.05 and 10.39 respectively.  While that does not guarantee them sub 4.3 yard dash times,  it does give their run more credibility.

Note Updated: 2/28/20:  Alabama’s Henry Ruggs has been added to the list.  Ruggs turned in a time of 4.27 at the NFL Combine on 2/27/20.  Many had speculated that he would break the combine record of 4.22 recorded by John Ross in 2017,  Ruggs came up short.  Nevertheless,  4.27 is an outstanding time that puts him at #37 on our list.

Note Updated 3/05/19: Added Zedrick Woods of Ole Miss to the list.  There were many fast times at the 2019 NFL combine but only one guy was able to go sub 4.3 and get on the list.

Note Updated 2/03/19:  We’ve all wondered what Usain Bolt would do in a 40.  Well,  wonder no more,  kind of.  At the NFL Experience during Super Bowl LIII,  Bolt, ran the 40 yard dash in sweatpants and sneakers.  He casually came through the line in an unofficial 4.22.  Mind you,  I doubt he went through a full warm-up and the set up was such that he could not run through the line at full speed.  There’s little doubt that under the type of conditions that the NFL players run the 40 at the combine,  Bolt,  who is retired at age 32, would surpass anything any of us have ever seen in the 40 yard dash.

Note Updated: 3/8/17:  University of Minnesota DB Jaylen Myrick has been added to the list with an official NFL combine time of 4.28.  Myric joins a small list of NFL combine participants who have run under 4.30.  Myrick’s time would have been the talk of the combine had John Ross from Washington not broken Chris Johnson’s long standing record with his time of 4.22.

Note Updated 3/4/17:  University of Washington’s John Ross broke the combine official 40 yard dash record with a 4.22 laser time.  He will be placed on the list with this time.  With that said, several scouts had him under 4.20 with their hand times.  Lowest I heard was 4.16.  This would put Ross amongst the fastest ever. Ross cramped up immediately after his run and only ran one. Looking at the tape, he may have cramped near the end of his run. Truly an amazing performance.

Note Updated 3/5/16:  The NFL Combine provided two new additions to the list.  I do accept hand times to the list.  In fact,  hand times make up the majority of this list for any of you who may have been curious.  The NFL Network,  which televises the NFL Combine,  uses former NFL GM Charlie Casserly as their timer for 40 yard dashes run at the combine.  Casserly’s hand time makes up the “unofficial times” that you see on NFL Network during the telecast of the NFL Combine. This year,  Georgia RB Keith Marshall cranked out a 4.29 according to Casserly’s watch during his 40 yard dash and Auburn DB Jonathan Joseph was the fastest hand time at the 2016 combine with a 4.28.  Both have been added to the list as it has now grown to 48 members.

Note Updated 4/3/15: Pro timing days are still going but we do have two highly publicized entries onto the list. UCF’s Breshad Perriman cranked out a 4.22 forty at UCF’s pro timing day at 6’2″ and weighing 215 lbs.  Only Randy Moss is taller than Perriman on this list.  After running a 4.35 at the combine,  Miami’s Phillip Dorsett cranked out a 4.25 at the University of Miami’s pro timing day.  If you’ve had a chance to see video, it looked every bit of 4.2.  Dorsett becomes the 5th Miami Hurricane added to the list.

Note Updated 2/24/15:  Similar to last year we have only one new entry from this year’s NFL draft.  After talk leading up to the combine of Miami’s Phillip Dorsett possibly breaking Chris Johnson’s record, only University of Birmingham Alabama’s JJ Nelson who was able to go under 4.3 seconds.  Nelson earned his way onto our esteemed sub 4.3 list with a mark of 4.28 unofficially (4.29 officially).  The next fastest mark at the 2015 combine came from Michigan St. cornerback Trae Waynes at 4.31.  Dorsett did put a blazing time at 4.33 but it is quite short of Chris Johnson’s standing combine official record mark of 4.24.  Stay tuned for some mutant clocking a ridiculous time at one of the upcoming Pro Days.

Note Updated 2/26/14:  While the 2013 combine added four new members to our list, 2014 was not as generous. Kent St.’s Dri Archer was the only member of this year’s combine to go sub 4.3 and thus get added to the list.  Archer listed at 5’7 3/4″ completed his dash in 18 steps which equals 6’5″ Calvin Johnson’s mark for the fewest amount of steps for the 40 yard dash at the combine.  That is truly amazing power in his strides. With Archer, the list now grows to 45 in total.

Note Updated 2/25/13: 2013 Combine has done well to add to our growing list. First Tavon Austin blazed up the Indy track with an effort-less 4.25.  Then Texas WR Marquis Goodwin refused to be outdone and posted up his own 4.25.  Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb made them both sit down with his hand timed 4.21.  Only Goodwin remained under 4.3 when the official times released as he ended up with 4.27.  McCalebb and Austin both ended up with 4.34 official 40 times.  I do count hand times for this list so all three make it.

Note Updated 3/05/13: Added Steve Williams from California who ran an unofficial 4.25 at the combine. Also added former Northern Iowa WR Terrell Sinkfield who ran a 4.19 at Minnesota U’s Pro Day on 3/04/13.  Here’s an article discussing Sinkfield’s run.

Note Updated 1/11/12: Three new additions to the list.  Clayton Holmes as prompted by a visitor named Kane who reminded me about the speedster front the Cowboys.  After some research I was satisfied that he did indeed run a 4.23 forty yard dash during him time with the Cowboys.  The other two additions came from an interview I happened to view from Tom Shaw who has trained some of the fastest men that have ever played and continue to play in the NFL.  Ike Taylor of the Steelers who Shaw says ran a 4.25 coming into the NFL.  Shaw also said Taylor once ran a 4.18 but I will stick with the 4.25 run before pro scouts.   Shaw also mentioned how Rod Woodson ran a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  I don’t know how that fact escaped me but it has escaped me no longer.  So three new additions.

Notes Updated 3/05/11: Two new additions to the list.  I added the 4.20 forty yard dash that I witnessed Henry Neal run at a Dolphin tryout in 1996.  I remember it well because I had to run my 40 after his.  My 4.44 clocking seemed pedestrian after Henry mowed the lawn for the scouts.  Neal was not a football player but a track star that was well put together.  He was 5’9″ 177  of all muscle.  Perhaps some Dolphin scout saw him on his travels and flew him in for the workout.

The other addition is Walter Sutton.  I was reminded of this by an ex-Miami teammate of mine named Kelvin Harris who resides from the Fort Myers area that Walter Sutton also came from.  Sutton was drafted in the 4th round in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons.  Sutton unfortunately was not able to start his NFL career because he was prosecuted on a drug dealing charge.  Sutton attended SW Minnesota St. and the best way to get drafted that high out of a school that size is to have speed and Walter did, clocking a 4.28 forty for the Falcons in a pre draft workout.

Notes Updated 3/02/11: DeMarcus Van Dyke is the latest addition to the list after clocking a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  That’s about as legit as it gets.  Van Dyke is the 4th Miami Hurricane to make the list.

Note Updated 1/11/12: Three new additions to the list.  Clayton Holmes as prompted by a visitor named Kane who reminded me about the speedster front the Cowboys.  After some research I was satisfied that he did indeed run a 4.23 forty yard dash during him time with the Cowboys.  The other two additions came from an interview I happened to view from Tom Shaw who has trained some of the fastest men that have ever played and continue to play in the NFL.  Ike Taylor of the Steelers who Shaw says ran a 4.25 coming into the NFL.  Shaw also said Taylor once ran a 4.18 but I will stick with the 4.25 run before pro scouts.   Shaw also mentioned how Rod Woodson ran a 4.28 at the NFL combine.  I don’t know how that fact escaped me but it has escaped me no longer.  So three new additions.

Notes Updated 1/24/11: Foolish me for not updating this sooner with Sam Shield’s 40 time since I witnessed it myself on his pro timing day last spring.  While I still had my mouth open from his 11’3″ broad jump where he seemingly got stuck in the air,  I watch Shields go out and chew up the first 40 yards like a 6 year old chews up a pack of bubbilicious.  He then smoothly coasted through the 2nd twenty and had scouts huddling up like they were calling a play on 4th and 1.   There were times all over the place ranging from 4.30 to 4.22 but the one most heard was 4.25 so that’s what I went with.  Johnny Knox is also deserving to be on this list. Knox, from the Bears, ran a 4.34 at the combine when he was coming out but he also ran on his pro timing day and there are may reports that put his time in the 4.26-4.29 range.  4.29 is what I have heard the most,  so that is what I went with.

Notes Updated: 3/04/10: USC’s Taylor Mays has been added to the list with his unofficial 4.24 at the NFL Combine.  Eventhough his official time was a 4.43,  I must include Mays’ time since several of the times on the list are hand times just like his.  Pretty amazing given Mays size (6’3″, 230 lbs.).  I may say that’s outside of Bo Jackson’s time,  Mays’ may be the most impressive when you take in the size factor.  Trindon Holliday has also been added for his unofficial 4.27 run at the combine on 3/01/10.

Notes Updated 3/01/10: Clemson’s Jacoby Ford and CJ Spiller were added to the list today.  Ford’s time at the Indianapolis NFL combine was a 4.27 unofficially and 4.28 officially.  CJ Spiller’s unofficial time was also a 4.28 but his official time ended up being a 4.37.  I am taking the 4.28 because there are many times on this list that are unofficial hand times.  Any way you look at it,  CJ Spiller can fly.

Notes Updated 1/04/09: Who knew this article would become so popular.  This has ended up being one of the most popular sports articles on the Internet since I wrote.  Just goes to show how much of a hot topic 40 yard dash times are.  I have received so many comments and emails about 40 yard dash times.  Please understand this 40 yard dash list is an “official” list meaning the times on it can be verified.  I am sure there have been some sub 4.3’s run out there but they have been done in a way that can not be verified.  There are a 100 stories about some boy name “D-Rock” who ran a 4.17 with some high tops on at lunch time on the grass field.  I can’t put those times on there.  There are even times that may be closer to official that I won’t even include.  For instance,  anyone who has seen C.J. Spiller or Jacoby Ford from Clemson or Trindon Holliday from LSU run could guess that these guys probably run sub 4.3 forty’s.  I am sure they have probably run them for some coach or strength and conditioning guy.  In fact,  Ford is said to have run a 4.26 at Clemson.  Holliday’s high school coach claims he ran a 4.27 but I am suspicious of high school forty yard dash times.  I need to tell you that up front.  Spiller has an alleged low time of 4.28.  However,  he also has a high time of 4.47.  On situations like that,  I will just wait to see what they run at the combine or in their private NFL workouts.  Sometimes,  they don’t hit the times you expect them to hit.

NOTE: Some of the times listed above may have been run on a track with spikes on. In cases where I know that to be true, those players are excluded from this list. Football is not played on a synthetic rubber surface with track spikes on. DeAngelo Hall’s reported 4.15 on Virginia Tech’s indoor track when he was a junior in college would be an example of that.

Is there someone missing from the list? Comment on this article with name and the time. I will check it out and add it if research dictates that it should be there. Comment on this article.

245 thoughts on “The Fastest 40 Yard Dash Ever

  1. Sydney

    Thanks for the USA Today link. I will review it. There seems to be some names on there with some verifiable results worthy of being put on this list.

  2. ive always heard that renaldo nehemiah had the fasted… hes not even on the list? can’t b…

  3. I was timed in college (Malone University) 1974-1979 at 4.27. I will admit that it was timed on a track with cleats on, but it is legitimate. I ran the 100 meters with an electronic time of 10.33.

  4. Try Alvis Whitted who went to NC State back in the late 1990’s. He played for the Raiders and had a time of around 4.22. He almost made the Olympics (placed 4th at the trials I think)

  5. What about Trinden Holiday who currently plays for LSU? He is said to be the fastest man in college football.

  6. Trinden ran a 4.27 40 in high school and in college ran a 10.00 in the 100 meter during the 2009 NCAA outdoor meet

  7. Mark,

    I remember Alvis Whitted and he was fast but I don’t have a verified time for him. I am going to have to look that up.

  8. Steve:

    There’s no doubt that Trindon Holiday is fast and he more than likely runs a sub 4.3 but unless I can verify it, I can’t put him on the list. I have to keep the integrity of the list. Maybe he will crank out a sub 4.3 at the combine or in a personal work out and it gets reported. I am anxious to see what guys like C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford and Holiday can run. It has said that Ford has run in the 4.26 range but I will wait till I get something a little more concrete.

  9. Renaldo Nehemiah ran a 4.0 during his 49’s career.

  10. Darrel Green was running sub 4.25’s in he late 30s

  11. As a track fan I have a very hard time believing results of football players 40 yard dash. Bolt would absolutely smoke him even in the race is run at 40 yards.

  12. rewmvtj,
    We all know Darrel Green was very fast. But his speed diminished over the span of his career. 4.25 in the late thirties is very unbelievable. Is there any documented evidence of this?

    J Digulio,
    I remember an article in Sports Illustrated with Renaldo on the cover catching the ball in a 49ers jersey. The title was something like; Speed or Pure Speed. Maybe there is some documented time for hime there.

    Can you investigate the SI cover story?

  13. Chad, I see you got some new additions. Did you verify them from the USA Today link that McKenzie mentioned?

  14. A 40 yard dash and a 100 meter sprint are two different things. A 100 meter dash is a technical race in which the best follow an acceleration pattern that calls from the to build up to their top speed and try to hold it through the finish. A 40 yard dash is explosion to top speed as quickly as possible.

    I watched Henry Neal, who may have run a sub 10.0 in his track career, run a 4.20 forty for the Miami Dolphins. In fact, I am going to add him to the list soon.

  15. J Digulio:

    I don’t know about Nehemiah running a 4.0. That one is hard to believe.

  16. You failed to put the New York Giants Henry Carr on said list,who was to 200 Meter Champ at the Tokoyo Olympics Games in 1964.Carr ran a 20.4 200 meters and know one including Bullet Bob could beat him in the 200 Meters and very few in the 100 Meters. With modern day training methods and chemical enhancements he may have beat Bolt that’s how fast Carr was.You can’t compare times ran on indoor tracks to times run by ball players on grass fields.You also failed to mention Curtis Dickey who had better times than anybody on your list except for Green. Dickey was a world record holder in the 60 Yard Dash (Sprint) and constant knee problems hindered his pro career with the Colts and Browns. Darrell Green once ran against the all world Carl Lewis and he beat Carl;They only ran one time against each other. O.J.was fast as hell but he almost didn’t make that World Class 4 by 100 Yard Relay Team at USC. O.J.was the slowest guy on the four man squad that featured the Detriot Lions Wide Receiver Earl McCollugh. I don’t know if Bo was faster than Juice and Ollie Matson could hold his own against any of the players you have mentioned. Hell John Riggins was faster than Barry Sanders,and Barry improved his speed with better dieting after had playing seven seasons in the N.F. L. But Dickey,Bo Jackson were the only eight speed running backs ever in the NFL. O.J.Tony Dorsett ,Gayle Sayers,Ollie Matson,Chris Brown, Herchel Walker, and Willie Gallimore. Bob Hayes teammate at Florida A & M Bob Paremore ran damn near as fast as Bullet Bob at 10.19 100 Meters. Bob Hayes and Darrell Green,Henry Carr,Curtis Dickey and Dion/Neon Sanders were the fastest ever to play in the NFL period. Don’t forget about the Rams Ron Brown or Ray Norton who played briefly with the 49ers. Norton was to damn fast for John Brodie to hand the ball off to him. Look it up ! Norton lost the 100 meters in the Rome Olympics. Do you know who beat him ? Don’t confuse football speed with track speed. You really need to some more research and make your list more accurate. Keep up the good work !

  17. I love how people come on here and try to tell me what I need to do. First of all of you think O.J. Simpson was anywhere close to being as fast as Bo Jackson then you are the one that needs to do research. You quoted me a bunch of track times from the 100 and 200 meters. As the headline on this article states, it’s about 40 yard dash times. There’s a difference between the two and I don’t need you to explain it to me since I played football AND RAN TRACK!!!! I have heard Curtis Dickey and I am old enough to have watched him play for the Colts taking handoffs from Bert Jones. However, I don’t have a verified 40 time for him. There are a ton of guys who were fast on the track who played in the NFL for which I don’t have verifiable 40 times for. Sam Graddy ran in the Olympics with Carl Lewis. So did Willie Gault. There was Johnny “Lam” Jones and later Tony Jones from Texas. Extremely fast athletes. Until I can verify a time or think it comes from a good source, I won’t put it on this list. A time for Gault may be coming soon. It is alleged that he recently ran a 4.2 forty while in his forties !!!! I am skeptical but if you have seen how he has taken care of himself you may be a bit inclined to believe it.

  18. O.J.Simpson,Tony Dorsett, Gayle Sayers,Ollie Matson, Herchel Walker,,Willie Gallimore, Chris Brown,Cyril Pender Reggie Bush were all six-speed backs. Eric Dickerson although a high school class B 200 meter sprint Champ I list him as a five speed back. Bullet Bob once had a two yard lead on Carr in a game between the Giants and Cowboys and Henry Carr caught him from behind. Carr could play corner and free and strong safety. John Riggins also was a class B 100 yard dash champ in the state of Kansas at 9.7. The Diesel could motor !

  19. Chad,
    Mr. Saunders obviously is not listening or reading your column. He seems to have some knowledge of times of the older players, but he’s still not comprehending the nature or purpose of your article.
    I think you have done exactly what you set out to do. There will be additions, but only if the “40 YARD DASH” time is verified.

  20. Willie Gault ran the 100m in a meet on 4/5/2008 in CA. His time was 10.88; his age was 1 month short of his 48th birthday. Amazing! I ran track from 4th grade through college and played college football. My fastest 100m time was only 10.76 accutrack. He was running 10.88 at almost 48!

    PS My hand timed 40yd was a 4.4. I just had to throw that in {smile}.

  21. Sydney Russel you are correct. Curtis Dickey never held the World Record in the 60 Yard Dash;he was the NCAA Champ for three years and the years you cite are correct. Chad what makes you think that Bo was faster than O.J. Bo never ran below 10.30 for the 100 meters and O.J. never ran the 100 meters; O.J.’s times were in the 100 Yard Dash which is 10 yards shorter than the 100 meters. I do understand that your article is about the 40 but I thought that I would mention other facts that are relevant to said discussion. Bo and O.J. never ran against each other all we have at our disposal are times that may not be accurate. Bo ran 10.39; O.J’s best 100 time was 9.4 although in the race that he ran that 9.4 two judges had him at 9.3. I saw Bo in that Monday night football game go balistics against the hapless Seahawks but I also have seen Juice motor in two and three feet of snow at Rich Stadium away from all the men in the NFL. Just think Chad if old Bo would have gone to a real football camp in August he might have gained 2700 yards a season. And think about Juice gettting those 2,000 yards in two and three feet of snow playing in only fourteen games(14 ) If juice would have had the Cowboys Offensive line that Emmitt had in front of him he would have gained 3,000 yards in Texas Staduim.
    Bob Hayes once ran 8.8 in the 100 yard dash but that was on a track that was 94 yards long.Hayes high school nemesis(A Gang Banger) beat bullet Bob in every race in the state of Florida; This gang banger died in a gang fight at the age of 18 and he never attended college. It also has been reported that Bullet Bob ran 8.8 in pratice at Florida A & M. Practice times don’t count for official records.
    Keep up your good work

  22. Ron Brown beat Darrell Green in the NFL’s fastest man race ? When and where ?
    Darrell Green and Bob Hayes may have been the fastest men to ever put on a football Jersey but we simply don’t have enough data to support either man. Its true that that many of these 40 times may have not been enough to sustain any of these guys to win a 100 yard or 100 meter race against Demps, Hayes ,Dickey, Carr Bo Jackson, or Ron Brown. We do know that Darrell Green beat the fastest human at the time All World Carl Lewis in there only race. If there is a time(officially) that says Darrell Green ran a 4.09 forty he did.
    Deon Sanders never beat Darrell Green any kind of race and there are at least five other footballers not including Darrell Green that have better times than Deon Sanders. So that’s ridiculous and absurb to say Deon Sanders was the fastest man ever. And Greene did catch Tony Dorsett from behind,and not on a angle. Henry Bad News Carr caught Bullet Bob once from behind on a straight line run from behind.
    Herschel Walker’s 100 Meter time is better than Bo Jackson and O.J would have smoked Bo is a straight up 100 yard dash race.

  23. O.J Simpson was the slowest man on that great USC 4X 100 yard relay team. Juice ran the second leg.That is pure non-sense about LSU’s Billy Cannon. Show me the proof ?
    Chad their may be times in the forty for Carr,Hayes, Norton, Teddy Woods,Matson and Sayers because they simply did not place any significance on said. You are correct they placed more meaning on the 50 and plus the fact that what ones does on grass with cleats is entirely different than running with track spikes on a rubber track or even a cinder/ash track. I ran a 10.0 yard dash in 1962 at the Maine State Prep School meet but that was ona track of Cinders and Ash with 880 yard run shoes not sprinter’s spikes. Although one Judge had me clocked in 9.9 they said it wasn’t offical because of the wind.
    I ran a 9.9 at Kent Hills Academy on a Cinder Track. With today’s rubber asphalt tracks/high tech tracks and chemical enhancements I think O could have run 9.5.. I also won the 220 Yard Dash at the same State meet. I quit running in 1977. And there is a great deal of difference running on a Cinder track compared to your High-Tech tracks of today. Today’s Track’s are faster faster no doubt.
    Who are the two NFL players in the Pro-Football-Hall-Of Fame who also won Olympic medals in track. I bet Sydney doesn’t know !

  24. Correction : Chad there may not be times for Carr, Hayes, Matson, Norton, Simpson, Paremore was Hayes teammate at A & M,etc.

  25. How do you figure O.J. Simpson would have smoked Bo Jackson in a 100 meter dash? O.J. has a best time of 9.3 hand timed in the 100 yard dash. That converts to a 10.55 100 meter dash on accutrack timing. Bo Jackson has a accutrack best of 10.39. Where does the smoke come in?

  26. Oh ho! Trying my knowledge in track and field huh?
    Well lets see, Bob Hayes, and um, how about The American Indian and hero Jim Thorpe!
    How ya like me now?

    I’d like to see Bob Hayes being caught from behind. Does anyone know where this footage is?

    I remember Ron Brown beating Darrell Green in the 100 it was on tv. I also remember Cliff Branch beating Herschel Walker in the 100 on The old TV show The Superstars on ABC.

    Just because Green beat Carl Lewis in a race doesn’t mean he is faster. Just in that race he was. Just look at their fastest times. That will show you who’s the fastest. There’s a guy named Carlton Young who used to run for our track club in Philladelphia. He beat Carl Lewis in every race they had. Carl’s best time was faster than Carlton’s. This of course was in high school. Does that mean Carlton is faster? I say no.

    Still everyone this is about guys in the NFL that have legitimate 40 times. My info was just to supplement and/or complement Chad’s.

  27. Chad,

    Great site!!!!

    You can go ahead and put Jacoby Ford on the sub 4.3 list and start a sub 4.2 list with Bo, Deion, Green, Vick, and J. Ford at the top!!!

    Jacoby WILL run a sub 4.2 and WILL turn in the fastest 40 at this years combine….. TAKE IT TO THE BANK!

    Good day sir.


  28. Chad,

    My bad man… I shouldn’t have included Deion and Vick on that sub 4.2 list.

    Sorry for the mix up.


  29. I thought this site was about the 40 yrd dash….It seems all I am reading is about the 100 meter or the 60 meter times
    Unless we are going to change the name of this blog site, who cares about these guys 100 meter times……..THIS IS ABOUT THE 40
    I think we have already mentioned everyone who is 4.3 or less. Lets see what happens at the combine. Ya feel me dawgs???

  30. Chad,

    I noticed that Don Beebe is on your list. In your research of him, I’m curious if you stumbled across a legit Steve Taskers 40 time? And if so, what was it???? ‘Cuz Taskers could flat out smoke!!! To quote his All Pro teammate Corneilus Bennet, “That’s one fast white dude!”. LMOA, I love that quote…..


  31. Are there any sub 4.3-40s from any of the older players? Could there be any split times for someone like Jim Thorpe? Did Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, OJ, Da Bears “Sweetness” have that kind of speed?

  32. If it’s 4.3 or less, then Darius Heyward Bey ran a 4.3 at the combine.

  33. No mention of Napoleon Kaufman…

    Ran sub 4.2 forties in high school…tore it up in college. I have seen him personally run the ball and if anyone is faster, then he’s superman…napoleon, for reference, ran 10.55 100 meters as a Junior in high school to win the 100 meter state event…also ran a 21.13 200 meter as a junior in high school to win that state event…
    Watch some of his high school/ college clips…too tough!!

  34. Have you ever heard of Houston McTeer (last name sp ?) from Baker, FL? Supposedly the fastest person ever for 40 yds. Played at Baker H.S. Used to race quarter horses at halftime ( H. S. football games). In 1975 was signed by Alabama (Bear Bryant) to keep him away from U. of Fla. Never attended college (academics). Competed in U. S. Olympic trials – was ahead of everyone after 40 yds. – didn’t train – chain-smoked – ran out of gas last 60 meters. Later ran for the Los Angeles track team. A good source for info on Houston would be the Tallahassee, FL newspaper – they ran a story on him once in which he was called “the pride and sorrow of Baker, Florida”!

    B. H. Ace Roberts

    PS – The title of your article is: “The Fastest 40 Yard Dash Ever”; i.e., you didn’t qualify it until the last paragraph to exclude high school. But since Houston was in the Olympic trials after high school, that puts him in a gray area and he was faster at 40 yds. than the two men who represented/qualified the USA in the Olympics in that time frame! Incidentally, the 100 meter dash was won by a Russian who had an incredible stride. As you know 100 meter speed depends on two factors: frequency and stride!

  35. B. H. Ace Roberts,

    Yes, the article is “The Fastest 40 Yard Dash Ever”, but the list only includes verifiable College football and NFL players.

  36. B. H. Ace Roberts,

    The Russian’s name is Valeri Borzov.

  37. bill cannon supposedly ran a 3.9 forty. wake up the man was a freak.

  38. It seems to me there’s a lot of comparing of apples and oranges here. I’d say you guys are attempting to (unwisely) compare quite a few distinct measures of speed.

    1. 40 yd. dash speed measured by coaches/scouts- to me, a completely arbitrary, non-scientific and thus non-verifiable measure of speed.

    2.Track speed measured with different degrees of reliability- again, for me, only reliable at major meets with advanced timing technology and not necessarily a great indicator of on-field football speed.

    3. Full-pad football speed with the assumption that every athlete is running at their peak. That’s a HUGE assumption.

    The reality is that none of the above ideas can predict or verify who will be faster on any given play at any given point in the game.

    Some variables I see that will affect on-field football speed.

    1. Specific weight/fit of a player’s gear.
    2. How that gear affects a player’s natural running stride.
    3. Motivation at that moment. Let’s face it, not all players are equally motivated at all times.
    4. Adrenaline- rushes/surges. For example, I just fumbled, my job is on the line, I’m scared and I HAVE to catch that defender who’s running down the field for a score.
    5. Awareness. Is someone on my heels or am I in the clear? I.E. Don Beebe/Leon Lett.
    6. I’m running with a football tucked under my arm. No one else is. Duh.
    7. What is the player’s physical condition at the moment vs. any other player’s physical condition. This is the biggest variable of all. I can think of hundreds of physical considerations that could greatly influence a player’s on-field speed at any given time. But I’ll try to use an example or two to highlight this rather than make a boring list.

    Scenario #1- Bob Hayes vs. Henry Carr

    Let’s assume as fact that Carr runs down Hayes from a two yard disadvantage. When in the game does this happen? Has Hayes already run thirty fly patterns as a decoy to help the Cowboy’s ground game? Is he totally gassed by the time a throw comes his way. Is Carr fresh because he’s being rotated in and out of the game? Has Hayes’ sore ankle from two weeks ago fully healed? Is Hayes at this point in the game more like a 10.7 100 meter sprinter as opposed to close to a 10.0 guy. Maybe. Maybe. So many variables…

    Scenario #2- Tony Dorsett vs. Darrell Green

    The night before the big game, Dorsett eats some bad shrimp. At game time, he’s queasy. Early on he takes some big hits and is mildly concussed. All of a sudden, the right play is called and he breaks into the clear with nothing between himself and the goal line. But the effects of the shrimp and the earlier hits cause him to lose a step or two and a few seconds later some kid named Darrell Green is dragging him down from behind. On another day, in better circumstances for Dorsett, Green closes but never catches him because Dorsett isn’t nauseous and woozy. Maybe.

    To summarize, a player’s on-field football speed can be indicated (but not defined or proven) by various timing methods. The only way to determine who has the fastest on-field speed over 40 yards is to examine thousands of hours of game film and then use a comparative speed formula to see who was moving consistently the fastest over forty yards on the playing field. All the rest is just hypothetical conjecture. But soooo much fun.

  39. Mr. Perkins,
    I like the way you think. But even on Dorsett’s best day, I think green still would have caught him. You are right about this being fun!

  40. Maurice Jackson
    Wide Receiver
    4.18 seconds

  41. michael lewis aka the beerman ran the forty in 4.19 and 4.22 in the rain.. look it up.

  42. Sean Dillard
    Wide Receiver
    4.27 seconds

    Temple University NFL Pro Day 2003

  43. You got a link to a newspaper article or anything that documents this?

  44. great article,i like all hte different reasoning,however its 40 times…if we went in all the otherareas the the KING(burger king)would be the fastest football player of all time,imaging his 40 time

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