You’ve seen the clip. You’ve heard the chatter. You might have even seen a t-shirt.
Legend holds that DK Metcalf maintained a top speed of a mildly aggravated rhinoceros over the while chasing down Budda Baker over 100 yards to prevent a defensive touchdown.
Now, he’s running against elite sprinters in an Olympic Trials qualifying meet. This story has seen no small amount of attention, from “I heard DK is running in the Olympics” to “he will be destroyed”, from a former Olympic runner.
I love Metcalf as an incredible player for my team, and I don’t think he’ll do well. This is not about that. This decision to race, frankly, is weird and bad, from the standpoint of both Metcalf and the Seattle Seahawks.
As far as I know, Pete Carroll has not publicly commented on the race. At the very least, Metcalf’s agent has not been reached for comment. The team has sort of done this quiet strategy this offseason with Russell Wilson and all that, but obviously Metcalf has to have....permission from the team?
The team has no obligation to tell us peons whether DK Metcalf asked, was given, or needs permission to run an extracurricular race. But this also is the same head coach who told us that Marshawn Lynch took it upon himself to not get on the plane one time. Players have not followed Carroll before.
What’s especially distasteful about this is that it comes in the same week that Denver Broncos’ Ja’Wuan James hurt himself in a non-approved workout and is out for the season with questionable financial status.
Broncos' OT Ja'Wuan James suffered a season-ending torn Achilles working out today away from the team facility, per sources. James' $10 million salary for the upcoming season now is in jeopardy being that Denver no longer is obligated to pay him with him working out off site.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 4, 2021
It’s bad for the team not to comment, because in a vacuum we are led to believe the permission to run is tenuous at best. It’s bad to allow it because things like James happen all too often, if not to elite players as frequently. It’s also bad because Metcalf is somewhere around the third most important player on the offense.
It’s also bad because Track & Field is not football, despite the fact that they both contain running.
The most recent player to do something like this (at this level) is WR Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin is actually a better track athlete than football player and it’s not remotely close.
You can see it for yourself, but Goodwin was a phenomenal long jumper far before entering NFL, and was elite even before he dabbled in the 2016 Olympics.
The main point is this: Marquise Goodwin jumped a potential Olympic Gold-medal winning distance before he entered the NFL. Competing in Track & Field later made sense.
DK Metcalf on the other hand, has not sprinted since high school. He did not do track in college at Ole Miss.
People are raving about Metcalf’s top speed of 22.6 miles per hour during the Budda Baker tackle. I think those same people Googled Usain Bolt or something and found that he averaged 23.5 mph during his record-setting 100m dash in 2009.
But the difference between what Metcalf did and what good 100m sprinters do is subtle, enormously impactful, and why I hope he does not actually run.
It’s about a 5-10% effort difference between casually building up to full speed verses what it takes to hit that speed as soon as possible coming out of blocks. That difference is by and large what separates eight men on a tiny strip of Mondo synthetic rubber running at 22+ mph in a straight line. It’s form, it’s twitch, it’s the developed lengthening of stride over time at full speed, and it is absolutely what causes the greatest amount of hamstring injuries in the sport.
In 1997 Donovan Bailey raced Michael Johnson in a 150m head-to-head for national glory and a couple endorsement dollars. Johnson hurt himself in the first 50m and pulled up lame. Hamstring. These were two of the best runners in the world at the time, and whether it was the new distance, unusual schedule, or extra adrenaline, even Michael Johnson’s incredible hammy was not immune.
Metcalf started in the back of the end-zone and had easily 30 or more yards to build up to full speed at his own pace. That’s the difference between the sports.
I would rather Metcalf not realize this and run a less-than-desirable time then to truly believe he can manifest a 10.00s 100 out of thin air and wreck the Seahawks’ season going for broke.
But it’s DK Metcalf and it’s the sport I grew up on so you better believe I’ll be watching on Sunday and pulling out all my hair.