The NFL’s fastest player: Titans RB Chris Johnson wins with 38% of the vote

SI PLAYERS NFL POLL (as it appears in the Oct. 31 issue)

Who is the fastest player in football?

  1. Chris Johnson, Titans RB….38%
  2. DeSean Jackson, Eagles WR….23%
  3. Mike Wallace, Steelers WR….12%
  4. Devin Hester, Bears WR/KR….3%
  5. Jacoby Ford, Raiders WR….3%

[Based on 316 NFL players who responded to SI’s survey]

FAST FACTS: Johnson ran a 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the NFL draft combine in 2008, the fastest mark since times became official, in 1999. Ford’s time at the 2010 combine (4.28) tied him with three other players as the second-fastest…. Michael Vick, who was voted No. 1 the last time SI polled on this subject, in 2006, was No. 6 (2%), even at age 31, and was the only QB to receive more than one vote…. Colts DE Dwight Freeney was the only lineman named more than once.


JaMarcus Russell: The most maligned figure in football tells his side of the story

From a chair in Maysville Barber Shop in Mobile—where he goes to have his head shaved three or four times a week—JaMarcus Russell tells senior writer L. Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) his side of the story. Russell says that few people are aware of the factors that worked against him during his time with the Oakland Raiders, including:

  • The death of 11 family members or friends, including uncle and father figure Ray Ray: “I went through so much no one knew about. Go to a funeral on Saturday, fly into the game on Sunday. Then I hear, ‘He doesn’t lead by example.’ Really?”
  • What Russell regards as being betrayed by then coach Tom Cable: “I stuck my neck out for him. Didn’t complain when he benched me as the starter. Didn’t complain when he called the same plays five damn times. Didn’t [badmouth] him to other coaches. When the [media] asks me, I say, ‘He’s a good coach, a good guy.’ Then I hear he says I was the worst thing ever happened to the Raiders, if it weren’t for him we’d be in the playoffs?… It just got to where the game wasn’t fun for me.”
  • The lack of support from his teammates: “Things weren’t going right, and it felt sometimes like everything fell back on me. I take some responsibility, but I was one guy…. I may have missed a throw, but I didn’t give up 42 points, I didn’t miss a block.”

Unbeknownst to many, Russell has given generously to his hometown of Mobile. He’s paid for turkeys at Thanksgiving food drives, bought supplies and library books for local schools and uniforms for local sports teams, underwritten the renovation for his church, built ramps for wheelchair-bound residents and rewarded kids with straight A’s with bikes, MP3 players and GoPhones. Russell says: “If I do go broke, it’s going to be from providing for my neighborhood and my family.” So why isn’t his charitable work better known? “My business is my business. That’s how I prefer it. I gotta look up to God. I don’t gotta look out to no damn news cameras!”

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SI’s Article Outtakes: Additional quotes from Phil Taylor’s interview with Doug Flutie on Tim Tebow

For his Point After column on Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, senior writer Phil Taylor talked to another former Heisman Trophy winner who many experts believed would never be successful in the NFL, Doug Flutie. According to Flutie, the skepticism about unorthodox quarterbacks is just as strong as it was 25 years ago. Among the quotes Taylor collected from Flutie, in addition to those used in his column:

“Everybody wants to tell you what Tebow can’t do, instead of looking at all the things he can. It’s ridiculous. The Colts were 3-13 in Peyton Manning’s first year, but they gave him time to develop. Tebow won’t get that time. Lots of quarterbacks struggle early in their careers, but people make a final judgment on guys like him much earlier. They’re just looking for a reason to dismiss him and say, ‘He can’t play.’ ”

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Ambitious New “Sports Illustrated Football Rivals” App Now Available for Download

Sports Illustrated continues to evolve the 56-year old powerhouse brand into an elite digital development operation, creating new pipelines for content distribution across multiple platforms. With more than 20 apps introduced in the past year, Sports Illustrated has engineered an aggressive digital development strategy that includes products created for the Web, tablets and smartphones. The latest iteration is Sports Illustrated Football Rivals app, one of our most ambitious productions to date.

Sports Illustrated Football Rivals provides fans with an in-depth look at some of the greatest rivalries in football history — some of which extend for nearly a century — all through our unmatched editorial coverage.  Dynamic features include more than 300 pages of content, rare photos, 3D interactivity, documentary style videos, game highlights, an interactive timeline of each rivalry, historical stats and more.  The app is a must have for football fans.

Read the full press release after the break.

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Follow SI.com’s Football Bloggers This Weekend

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With the college football embarking on its second weekend and the NFL season kicking off last night, SI.com’s bloggers have you covered. So who is it that will keep you updated on everything that happens on and off the gridiron this fall? Get to know the folks behind our college football blog, Campus Union, and our NFL blog, Audibles.

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