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NFL News - January 5th, 2010 - Written by John
A slow start to the season kept the Tennessee Titans out of the 2009 NFL Playoffs, and their star running back Chris Johnson's hopes of a race with Usain Bolt may be doomed for the very same reason.
Johnson challenged Bolt to a foot race several months ago, but has said that Bolt will not participate in a short distance race because he is notorious for getting a slow start off the line.
For weeks, representatives of both athletes have been hammering out a deal that would pit the two together in a foot race to decide the world's fastest human being, but the issue of distance has been it's major obstacle.
Johnson wants the race to be done in 60 meters or less, because that is the distance he is most familiar with and set an NFL combine record before the draft in the 40-yard dash.
But Bolt is the current world record holder in the 100 meter, and will only agree to a race of that distance, because he usually lags at the beginning before blowing past his competition late.
Bodog currently has the race as a longshot, posting lines that payout -280 if it doesn't happen by August 1st, 2010 and +220 if it does happen.
If the race agreed upon, Bodog also has Bolt as the favorite with a -900 return to Johnson's +500.
The betting site also has odds to wager which length will be agree upon, if the race is agreed upon at all. Over 60 meters is 3/2, under 60 meters is 9/5 and exactly 60 meters is 5/4.
Johnson calmly retrieved his wares from the Titans' locker room, disappointed about the future, and told reporters that he didn't believe the race was going to happen.
"We got word two days ago. He don't want to do it. He only wants to run the 100, he don't want to run the 50," Johnson said. "He said the only way he'll do it is if he runs the 100."
Money from the race would be donated to charity, and it seems to just be a race simply for entertainment's sake. But both runners clearly have distance preferences based on their training and habits, and a loss by Bolt could have major ramifications. Although that hasn't been an issue mentioned by his camp, his agent, Ricky Simms told UniversalSports that his client wouldn't agree to the race at this time.
"Usain doesn't follow the NFL too closely and is not really familiar with all of the players. He likes [international] football and cricket," Simms said, according to the report. "But more importantly, he has a schedule and a coach to follow and there is no chance that we would set up this type of event."
Bolt is the record holder in the 100m and 200m, winning three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics last summer.
Johnson is considered to be the fastest man in the NFL, becoming the sixth player in the history of the league to gain 2,000 yards in a season. At the aforementioned combine, Johnson set the record with a 4.24-second 40.