by Ty Schadt, Sports Editor
Have you ever done something, and almost immediately after, wish you’d have done it differently? Not necessarily because you didn’t succeed, but because you could’ve done it better? If you’ve felt this way, you’d probably understand how John Ross, a wide receiver prospect from the University of Washington, felt after the 2017 NFL Combine.
The NFL Combine is a camp for all prospects vying to get selected in the NFL Draft on April 27. Players of all positions gathered in Indianapolis starting on Feb. 28 to put their skills on display for scouts, coaches and owners of different NFL teams. They went through medical exams, took tests, lifted weights and performed many footwork drills, most notably the 40 yard dash.
On Feb. 27, Adidas presented a challenge to all participants via their Twitter page: if any athlete broke the 40 yard dash record at the Combine, they’d be awarded an island worth up to one million dollars. Yes, a literal island of Adidas’ choosing. However, there were a few catches. Participants must have worn Adidas’ 2017 5-Star 40 cleats and then signed with the company through the 2017-18 season.
What was the mark to beat? 4.24 seconds, set by running back Chris Johnson in 2008. That number has stood since, and is quite impressive, considering the combine has been around for 35 years. After a day and a half of attempts, it appeared as though Johnson’s record would survive another Combine. However, several athletes had yet to run.
Per ESPN, Ross exploded in his junior year at Washington, recording 1,150 receiving yards en route to 17 touchdown catches. These numbers jump off the page, but scouts were anxious to see how he graded out at the Combine. The 5-11, 190 pound speedster proceeded to dazzle, even though leg cramps stopped him from competing in any events other than the 40 yard dash.
Ross’ 40 time came in at 4.22, breaking Chris Johnson’s long-held record and solidifying the youngster as an island-owner, right? Only there was one problem… Ross was sporting Nike cleats, not Adidas. In other words, no island for the soon-to-be draft pick. Why wouldn’t Ross take up Adidas on the offer? Surely he knew going into the event he had a chance to break the record, so why wouldn’t he wear the Adidas cleats, just in case?
According to NFL Network’s Michael Irving, Ross’ explanation was quite simple: “I can’t swim that well. And I don’t own a boat.” It’s hard to argue with that logic, but how many people have the chance to say they own an island? It seems as though he missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In Ross’ case, it might not matter that much. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Nike promptly signed Ross to a deal hours after his run. Also, his draft positioning will surely jump after such an impressive day. All in all, despite missing out on an island, Ross made a lot of money in a mere 4.22 seconds.