Former Lions back Jahvid Best now first former NFL player in Olympics

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is set to become the first athlete with previous NFL experience to qualify for the Olympic Games after being approved to represent St. Lucia in track and field next month in Rio.

Best -- who was born in Vallejo, California -- will run in the men's 100 meter competition for St. Lucia, a Carribbean island with estimated population of just over 163,000. Best's father holds dual citizenship with St. Lucia and the United States.

"This is a huge accomplishment for me, but at the same time this is just the beginning," Best told NBC Sports. "I have only been in this sport for two years professionally, and plan on being around for a long time."

Best will now become the first player with prior NFL experience to compete in the Summer Games. Marquise Goodwin competed in the 2012 Olympics in the long jump, but that was before starting his career as a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Goodwin failed to make the Olympic squad for Rio.

Best was the Lions' first-round draft pick in 2010 out of the University of California but only played two seasons in the NFL, a career cut short by a series of concussions. After his retirement from the Lions, Best returned to Cal to finish his degree and serve as a graduate assistant for the Golden Bears.

Best was a former high school track star and returned to sprint training in 2015 with Altis, an athletic training center in Arizona with a strong pedigree of Olympic athletes.

The road to Rio began for Best after he posted a 10.16 second time in the 100 meter event at a meet in Sacramento on April 2. The time met the maximum Olympic qualifying time for the event and allowed Best to be eligible to represent St. Lucia due to his father's citizenship.

"I just want to bring pride to Saint Lucia, to the Olympic team, to the sport of athletics," Best told the St. Lucia News in a May interview. "I want to carry the flag around the track and make my family and country proud."

Best's time would have not been good enough to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.

There have been other NFL players who have aimed for Olympic glory. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts special teams player Jeff Demps was eliminated in the first round of the 100m at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. Jarryd Hayne, a former San Francisco 49ers running back, also attempted to compete in Rio but failed to make Fiji's rugby sevens squad.