On Thursday, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton—the fastest man in baseball—agreed to race Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver draftee John Ross—the fasted man in football—in a 40-yard dash for charity.
Hamilton has 202 stolen bases in in 425 career games, Ross ran the fasted 40 in NFL Draft combine history, at 4.20, and the two of them now play in the same city, after Ross was drafted ninth overall last week.
The race sounded like a lot of fun. So naturally, someone had to ruin it.
As it turned out, it took barely a day for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to put the kibosh on the whole thing.
“John is not a circus act or anything. John is a football player, ” Lewis said. “I don’t think either one of them needs to risk their careers in some kind of race.”
It’s hard to figure why Ross running a 40-yard dash against Hamilton would be any more dangerous than, say, him running a 40-yard dash at the combine. The race would have benefited charity and would have been a lot of fun. There was no real reason for Lewis to stop it, other than the fact that every NFL coach is forever averse to all individuality. God forbid a player do something that he wants to do.
It’s become a cliche to call the NFL the No Fun League, but this type of thing earns the league that reputation.