“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” -Walter Elliot
Heading into the 2010 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions were coming off a 2-14 season, giving them the No. 2 overall pick. As a die-hard fan, I was hoping the Lions drafted a player that would help lead the team to an eventual Super Bowl. Heck, let’s be honest, I was just hoping for a playoff victory.
A trade that could change everything
As we know now, the Lions used the No. 2 pick in the first round to select defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh out of Nebraska. When the pick was announced, I was extremely happy because my philosophy is that a strong defense will almost always keep a game close.
That being said, when the Lions traded up to acquire the No. 30 pick in the first round, I can remember the excitement in the air. That excitement boiled over when the announcement came that the Lions were drafting Jahvid Best, a running back out of California. You see, at the time I thought that Best was the second rated running back in the entire draft, only behind C.J. Spiller out of Clemson, and figured there was no chance he would ever wear the Honolulu blue with the Lions.
Flashes of brilliance
In his rookie season with the Lions, Best did not take long to show the world just how special he could be. In Week 2 of the 2010 season, he had 78 yards rushing and 154 yards receiving, including a 75-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Despite losing that game 35-32 to the Philadelphia Eagles, we saw a glimpse of what was hopefully to come from the Lions newest offensive weapon.
Though Best did not have another game like that during his rookie campaign, he did finish with 1,042 total yards and six touchdowns, despite dealing with a turf toe injury for much of the season.
Detroit fans had not had a dominant running back since the great Barry Sanders, and Best was going to be the next best thing. He had to be…
Until it all came to and end.
Concussions force Best from football
During his junior year at California, Best suffered concussions in back-to-back weeks and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. So, when he was concussed in the Lions third preseason game leading up to the 2011 regular season, fans held their breath. Despite the concussion, Best was able to return to the Lions, but on October 16th of the same year, he suffered yet another concussion. Only this time, he would not come back.
The Lions placed Best on injured reserve in November of 2011 due to post concussion symptoms, and after missing the entire 2012 season, he was released prior to the 2013 season.
Unfortunately, Lions fans would never get to see what could have been.
A new beginning
Rather than just giving up on athletics, Best decided that he would do something else that he was good at. Running.
Specifically, Best focussed on the 100-meter dash. Like many skill position players in the NFL, Best was a track star in high school. In fact, he won the California 100-meter dash state championship in 2007 with a time of 10.31 seconds.
In April of 2016, after spending time sprint training for the previous year, Best ran a 10.16 100-meter dash time, which happens to be the Olympic qualifying standard. Though that time was not fast enough to make the U.S. team, Best was approved for Saint Lucia’s Olympic track and field team due to his father’s dual citizenship.
Back on the big stage
In the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Jahvid Best became the first person with previous NFL experience to compete in the Summer Games. Though Best did not make it out of the first round after posting a time of 10.39 seconds (the 54th best time), he proved to himself and to the world that with perseverance, you can accomplish anything. The former Lions running back also made it clear that, at the age of 27, he was just getting started.
“It’s an experience,” said Best. “It’s the first time I’ve run in front of a crowd of more than 500 people at a track event.
“I’m looking forward to a bright future. Because I know I can master this sport like I did football.”
I, for one, am looking forward to following Best as he continues to compete in the 100-meter dash and wish him the best of luck.