The fast, cozy and controlled atmosphere of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis has claimed at least one name from the record books and made the weekend exhibition of timing and testing suddenly “must see” TV.
On Saturday, wide receiver John Ross, who decided to fully commit to the shark-infested waters of pro football one year early, burned a pathway on the 40 dash proving grounds with a scorching 4.22 result eclipsing the all-time mark of 4.24 by running back Chris Johnson, set in 2008. However, due to his shoe allegiance, he failed to claim ownership of an island. As NFL athletes know, a great game tape and a forty time with a difference of less than a tenth or even hundredth of a second can equate to a big payday.
Ross, a former University of Washington standout and all-American honoree, averaged a blazing 19.4 miles per hour during his record setting performance and what made the effort more impressive is that he appeared to tighten up in the last five yards with a cramping or muscle issue. The wide receiver prospect also achieved a 36 inch vertical leap and reached an impressive expanse of 13′ 1″ in the broad jump test.
In a bold attempt to increase exposure and revenue, Adidas offered the architect of a record breaking 40 yard dash performance at the Combine, an exclusive and lucrative shoe contract as well the possession of an actual island. However, Ross stood steadfast in his allegiance towards Nike and if his brilliant playmaking ability and world class speed help in forging a solid NFL career, he will retire a very wealthy man and another example of a successful alum to the global leader in athletic shoes founded by Phil Knight.
For now the debate will rage on if the diminutive (in the world of the NFL) Ross at 5’11 and 190 pounds could hold a candle to the infamous Bo Jackson and the urban legend that the football and baseball star ran an electronically-timed 4.18 during his pre-draft days. The dialogue even carries over to the track and field world and how 100 meter dash world record holder Usain Bolt would fare in the stringent timing and testing protocol demanded by the scouts and agents at the combine. A word of caution to Ross, out of the list players posting the fastest 40 times in combine history since 2003, only a small percentage have enjoyed sustained success in the league.
VIDEO: John Ross Breaks The Wow Barrier