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Jahvid Best becomes first person with NFL experience to qualify for Summer Olympics

Bears Lions Football

Paul Spinelli

More than four years after his most recent concussion ended a once-promising NFL career, former Lions running back Jahvid Best returns to the top levels of athletic competition. He has been named to the St. Lucia track and field team for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Best, who will compete in the 100-meter dash, becomes the first person with prior NFL experience to qualify for the Summer Games. (In 1992, Herschel Walker competed in the bobsled at the Winter Olympics. Patriots safety Nate Ebner still has a chance to be named to the U.S. Olympic rugby team, too.)

It was believed Best would be required to run the 100 in 10.16 seconds or faster at the St. Lucian National Championships on June 25-26. However, a 10.16-second sprint from April at a meet in San Diego was deemed to be sufficient by the IAAF.

Given that 10.16 seconds is the minimum qualifying speed for the 100-meter dash and given that Best has never run it faster than that, it’s not likely he’ll advance beyond the preliminaries. Still, Best made it -- which is a major accomplishment.

It helps to have sufficient ties to St. Lucia, where his father was born. The tiny Caribbean island had no one faster than Best, so he gets the spot on what will be a very small delegation to Rio. As of May, only two others had qualified for the team.

Best, a first-round pick of the Lions in 2010, had a significant history of concussions from college. A seemingly minor head injury in a 2011 game against the 49ers resulted in Best never being cleared to play again.

He finished his 22-game NFL career with 945 rushing yards and 774 receiving yards.