Once upon a time, Jahvid Best was an electrifying running back. His college career at Cal was so impressive that he still holds many records at the school, including most all purpose yards in a single season, with 2,247 in 2008. When the Detroit Lions selected him with the 30th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, it looked as if his best football was yet to be played.
Sadly, Jahvid Best’s career was cut short by a concussion suffered in 2011. He had a history of problems with brain injury in college and when it happened against the 49ers, he figured he would be able to come back from that one too. But that never happened. Jahvid Best was never medically cleared to return to football activities. His life in pro sports was over… Or so we thought.
After almost 5 years on the shelf, Jahvid Best is making his return to the big time by being the first ever retired NFL player to qualify for the Summer Olympic Games (40 other players have competed, most before their first NFL games). Though he is originally from California, he will be representing his father’s native St Lucia. Best will head to Brasil on the country’s track and field squad in hopes of bringing some Olympic hardware to the island nation.
Anyone who knows this guy’s story should feel good about this. A man who had his dream snatched out from under him when he looked to have a bright future ahead of him, gets a second chance at glory in the oldest competition in the history of mankind. He appeared in 22 NFL games piling up 945 rushing yards, 774 receiving yards and 9 total touchdowns, and I can’t help but wonder how many more exciting plays he could have given us Lions fans. But he wouldn’t let the misfortune of a career ending injury keep him down, and because of that he will get to compete against some of the best track athletes in the world for a shot at gold and glory.
Jahvid Best enters the Summer Olympics in Rio as somewhat of an underdog, though. In order to qualify for the summer games an athlete must run the 100-meter dash in a time of 10.16 seconds or better, and Best hit that mark exactly at a meet in San Diego last April. It helps that his father was born in St. Lucia, giving Jahvid the chance to join an Olympic team with a much smaller talent pool than that of the United States. As of now, there three other athletes from St. Lucia heading to the games in Rio, and the island has never won a medal.
That’s where Jahvid Best comes in. Could you imagine that story? A once promising NFL running back who had his career cut tragically short by injury and barely qualifies for the games come out of nowhere to bring Olympic Gold to the nation of his forebears. That’s a beautiful thought. It might be improbable but I’ll tell you one thing, I know I’ll be rooting for Best when it comes time. And if you love epic comebacks you should too.