MIAMI — Yes, Tyreek Hill would love to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Doing so is, in actuality, easier said than done.
Hill, 25, is the NFL’s fastest player. The Kansas City Chiefs wideout is a 5-foot-9, 185-pound blur that defenses must account for at all times. That’s what Hill’s 4.24 speed in the 40-yard dash — his time during his pro day in 2016 — does for him on the gridiron.
That speed translates well to the track, which is why Hill’s revelation surrounding the 2020 Olympics, which he told reporters on Wednesday, is so fascinating.
#Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill says he wants to try out for the Olympics if he's feeling healthy after the season.— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) January 28, 2020
"Maybe get a few guys off the team and see if we can get a relay together and show these track guys, hey, football guys - we used to do this back in high school." pic.twitter.com/3JlsGsY3TN
“Hopefully after this season, if I’m healthy and my mind is still in the right place, like I really want to try to qualify for like, some Olympic teams — even go to Penn Relays [in April], give that a try. Maybe get a few guys off the [football] team and see if we can put a relay together and show these track guys that, hey, football guys, hey, we used to do this back in high school, man. We still got it. So maybe, I just want to have fun with it.”
Hill is, no doubt, a blazer. Back when he was 18, he posted an Olympic qualifying time of 20.14 in the 200-meter dash, and even ran a wind-assisted 9.98 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
But there are a few obstacles in the way of Hill resurrecting his track dreams, the first of which Hill is absolutely aware of.
“The thing is, like, I’m weighing like 195 [pounds] right now,” Hill said. “Back in high school when I ran a 9.9, I was like 175. Like, if I do it, it would be me changing my whole diet, and everything I’ve been doing to get to this point where I’m at now.”
And from there, the question Hill will have to ask himself is how much that pursuit would thrill his employer.
For starters, Hill is an All-Pro talent at receiver, one in his prime. Aside from Patrick Mahomes, he is the single-most indispensable piece on Kansas City’s offense, someone whose absence — as the Chiefs learned for one four-game stretch this season — allows defenses to have a chance at containing K.C.
That said, Hill is short but stoutly built for his size, and he uses every pound on his muscle-packed frame to withstand the rigors that defenders impose on him. The U.S. Olympic trials are in late June, which means he’d need to gain at least some of the weight he lost back in time for training camp, which begins less than a month later.
So maybe Hill decides the risk of cutting and gaining weight quickly isn’t worth the reward, especially since he just signed a three-year, $54 million extension last fall, and only $5.8 million of the contract was guaranteed at signing. That means the safest way for Hill to see all that money — plus earn another lucrative contract in a few years — is to keep performing well on the football field.
Still, it’s hard to blame Hill for being intrigued by the Olympic possibility. People love track stars, especially in Olympic years, and are intrigued by athletes who try to do that and football. Usain Bolt, for instance, toyed with the idea of playing in the NFL, and that attracted eyeballs, and so did Buffalo Bills receiver Marquise Goodwin’s long jump forays. In a similar vein, it’s easy to see Hill raising his star if he was to somehow pull this off.
However, it’s also fair to wonder whether the decision could also be influenced by whether the Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday. If the Chiefs lose, leaving the pressure to win Kansas City’s first Super Bowl since the 1969 season still intact, his beloved coach, Andy Reid, would still be ringless, and Mahomes, his uber-competitive buddy and quarterback, will have the fire of all fires to get back to the big stage and win his first Super Bowl.
Doing so, obviously, will require a full strength Tyreek Hill at his football-playing best. Maybe he could be that for the Chiefs in 2020 while still making a serious run at track.
Regardless, if there’s any doubt about the latter, the decision of whether to do it at all should be quite an easy one for Hill.
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