Ricky Simms Denies ESPN Report About Usain Bolt/Chris Johnson Race Negotiations

By Weldon Johnson and Emory Mort
January 8, 2009

Though ESPN reporter Adam Schefter quoted several sources claiming a possible race between NFL running back Chris Johnson and Usain Bolt was being negotiated, Bolt's manager Ricky Simms of Pace Sports Management says emphatically that Schefter's reports are untrue.

In an email to LetsRun.com, Simms says:

“Neither Usain Bolt nor anyone from his management team have been contacted or approached about this race.  We have only been reading about it in the media.  I have no idea where this is coming from or who is making it up.”

Background Story
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson broke the NFL single season record for yards from scrimmage this year (combined receiving and running yards) and became the 6th NFL rusher to gain 2,000 rushing yards in a season.

Lately, however, Johnson has been in the news and on the LetsRun.com message boards for his challenge to race world 100m record-holder Usain Bolt (2 popular threads can be seen here and here). First came the initial challenge in December of 2009, as NFL reporters asked Johnson if he was faster than Miami Dolphins speedster Ted Ginn, Jr. and then asked him if he could beat Bolt (link here).

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks But in the past week (January 4th), ESPN published a story (link here) that cites ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter saying negotiations were underway to make the Bolt/Johnson race happen:

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Monday that according to sources, representatives for the Titans running back and Bolt had spent recent days trying to set up a race between the two men to determine who really is the world's fastest human.

According to sources, the hangup seemed to be the length of the race. Johnson wanted the race to be 60 yards or less, while Bolt wanted it to be longer.

Sound like some juicy negotiations, if the sources were accurate.

As it turns out, Bolt's manager Ricky Simms is perplexed with Schefter's and Johnson's public announcements about negotiations with Bolt and his representatives.

So what we're left to figure out is, was Schefter making up news? Was Chris Johnson making up stories? Were Johnson's stories making their way to Schefter's sources? Who were Schefter's sources?

If we trust Simms, and we at LetsRun.com trust the word of Simms, then something has gone wrong in the chain of information. We're not sure how information as detailed as Schefter's (i.e. "several days of negotiations", "the hang up is over the distance of the race") gets published on ESPN if it in reality is completely fabricated information.

Perhaps the media, Schefter included, have been taken for a ride by a charismatic young running back and the people close to him.

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