The Fastest Player in the History of Each NFL Franchise
Speed is an eternally important part of the NFL.
While most players—especially at skill positions—are fast, only one player can be remembered as the fastest in each team's history.
Some are obvious, as you can probably guess that guys like Deion Sanders and Randy Moss will be making an appearance on this list.
However, how many people are familiar with Spider Lockhart or Ron Brown?
Let's count down the fastest player in the history of each NFL franchise.
Rules and Regulations
I know everyone is excited to start the countdown, but we need to go over a few guidelines first.
Otherwise, a sense of pandemonium will ensue and everyone will think I randomly threw names at the computer and hoped some would stick.
1. Players can only make one appearance on the list.
- Deion Sanders, for instance, is one of the fastest players of all time, but it really detracts from the effect of the list if I include him as the fastest player for all five of his NFL teams.
2. This list makes mentions of some players' 40-yard dash times, but that was not the measuring stick for selection.
- Everyone knows that 40-times can range from scientific to stupid. I have listed some players' 40-times as a way to showcase their speed, but that was not the basis for my decision making.
3. This list is subjective, so don't freak out.
- While I believe all of these picks are correct, some of you will surely disagree. Fret not people, gauging the fastest player in each team's history is an inexact science. Let your voice and opinion be heard in the comment section.
Arizona Cardinals: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Member of the Cardinals from 2008-2010
One-time Pro Bowler
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has quickly evolved into one of the best cornerbacks in all of football.
However, before he became a complete package as a defensive back, Rodgers-Cromartie was best known for his amazing speed.
He ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL combine, and that speed helped to ensure his status as a first-round draft pick.
Atlanta Falcons: Deion Sanders
Member of the Falcons from 1989-1993
Eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2011
Few players have been able to leave their mark on the NFL quite like Deion Sanders.
"Prime Time" was a standout for many teams, but the DB/KR began his prolific career with the Atlanta Falcons. It was with the "Dirty Birds" that he first gained recognition as a true shut-down cornerback.
Sanders set an NFL record with 19 defensive and return touchdowns. He gained 3,523 yards on 155 kickoff returns in his career and intercepted an astounding 53 passes.
Baltimore Ravens: Fabian Washington
Member of Ravens from 2008-2010
Fabian Washington has largely failed to live up to the hype since coming out of college and joining the NFL.
But that doesn't mean he lost his speed.
Washington ran a 4.25 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL combine and spent three years with the Oakland Raiders before spending three more with the Baltimore Ravens.
In his time with the Ravens, Washington recorded 91 tackles and one interception.
Buffalo Bills: O.J. Simpson
Member of the Bills from 1969-1977
Six-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1985
Before O.J. Simpson was running from the cops, he was running away from NFL defenders.
Simpson was one of the fastest running backs ever to lace up a pair of cleats and gained over 12,100 yards from scrimmage in his time with the Buffalo Bills.
He was a lethal threat when the ball was handed to him, but Simpson was also a capable pass-catcher, with 175 receptions to his credit in his nine-year stint with Buffalo.
Simpson's legacy may be all but gone at this point, but once upon a time, few could hope to keep up with Simpson on the field.
Carolina Panthers: Raghib "Rocket" Ismail
Member of the Panthers from 1996-1998
Raghib "Rocket" Ismail will be remembered mainly because of his illustrious career with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and rightfully so.
However, Ismail also brought his speed and talent to the NFL game as a wide receiver.
With the Panthers in 1998, Ismail posted 1,024 yards receiving and eight TDs on 69 catches. The "Rocket" had tremendous lateral quickness and ability to get to the sideline and march up the field as well anyone in the game.
Chicago Bears: Devin Hester/Willie Gault
Hester: Member of Bears from 2006-Present
Three-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro
Gault: Member of Bears from 1983-1987
Who will go down as the fastest Chicago Bear of all time?
Until recently, the answer was easily Willie Gault—but now, Devin Hester has made it a two-horse race.
It was impossible to decide between the two, because each possess the ability to go from zero to 40 before the defense could react.
Gault was also a member of a world record-setting U.S. 4x100-meter relay team, and would likely have a gold medal to his credit if the U.S. had not boycotted the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympics.
Hester was the first player ever to earn a 100 speed rating in Madden.
Unlike Obama vs. Romney, this race is too close to call.
Cincinnati Bengals: Isaac Curtis
Member of the Bengals from 1973-1984
Four-time Pro Bowler
As a member of the University of California's track team, Isaac Hayes ran a 9.30-second 100-yard dash. He was one of the fastest men not just in an NFL uniform, but in the world.
Curtis' insane track speed eventually led to the "Isaac Curtis Rule." The rule states that a defender can block a player within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but anything after that is holding.
Curtis was a reliable deep threat for Cincinnati for over a decade and caught 416 passes for 7,101 yards and 53 TDs.
Cleveland Browns: Josh Cribbs
Member of the Browns from 2005-Present
Two-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
The Cleveland Browns do not have the most illustrious history of speed, but Josh Cribbs comes to mind when thinking of absolute burners.
Cribbs is a legitimate threat every time the ball is in his hands and has taken it the distance 11 times in his career.
The former Kent State Golden Flash has averaged 26.0 yards per kick return in his career, including a 30.7 yards-per-kick-return average in 2007.
Dallas Cowboys: Bob Hayes
Member of the Cowboys from 1965-1974
Three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2009, finalist in 2004
Just watch this video of Bob Hayes in the 100-meter final of the Olympics and try not to be amazed. At the 1964 Summer Games, he set a world record in the event, clocking in at 10.06 seconds.
That is pure speed and adrenaline. Hayes knew how to harness that speed on the track and, more importantly for this article, on the football field.
Hayes played for the Dallas Cowboys for almost a decade—in that time, no player was nearly as exciting with a football in their hands.
Denver Broncos: Champ Bailey
Member of the Broncos from 2004-Present
11-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro
Champ Bailey is one of the single greatest defensive backs of all time. He is also one of the fastest.
Bailey ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the 1999 NFL combine and has managed to be the rare player that combines top-notch speed with sound coverage skills and a great set of hands.
Bailey has recorded 51 interceptions and scored four touchdowns in his career, including three of over 50 yards.
Detroit Lions: Barry Sanders
Member of Lions from 1989-1998
10-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2004
There was only one Barry Sanders.
He is by far the greatest Detroit Lion in history, and many (including this journalist) believe he would have the NFL record for career rushing yards if he did not retire far too young.
Still, Sanders was known for his speed and agility above all else. No. 20 could juke defenders out of their shoes and then outrun everyone on his way to six points.
He sometimes spent a little too much time heading east and west, but when you have the talent of Sanders, you can get away with things like that.
Green Bay Packers: James Lofton
Member of the Packers from 1978-1986
Eight-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2003, finalist in 2000, 2002
James Lofton could do a little bit of everything. He was a tremendous long-jumper, ran the 200-yard dash and was a Hall of Fame football player.
This Packers legend would go on to be both a coach and a broadcaster later in life, but during his nine years with the Green Bay Packers, he was one of the most dangerous vertical threats in all of football.
Lofton recorded 9,656 yards receiving and 50 total touchdowns with the Packers and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1980s.
Houston Texans: Trindon Holliday
Member of Texans from 2010-2011
The Houston Texans have only been a franchise for around a decade, so the talent pool for the fastest player in team history was somewhat limited.
We never really got a chance to see David Carr's speed because he was always being sacked, and Tony Boselli just didn't feel like he deserved to be on this list.
Luckily, Trindon Holliday joined the Texans in 2010 and gave the team a legitimate speedster.
His 40-yard dash time hovers between 4.22 and 4.27, but the fact of the matter is that his straight-line speed translates wonderfully to the football field.
Holliday has already left for greener pastures with the Denver Broncos, but in his short tenure, he left a clearly defined mark with Houston.
Indianapolis Colts: Edgerrin James
Member of the Colts from 1999-2005
Four-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
There was a time, not that long ago, when the Indianapolis Colts backfield was not inhibited by players like Vick Ballard and Donald Brown.
In other words, it wasn't pathetic.
Edgerrin James lined up behind Peyton Manning for seven seasons and made a name for himself as one of the fastest RBs in the game of football.
He averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his time with Indy, and he rushed for 9,226 yards and 64 touchdowns.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew
Member of Jaguars from 2006-Present
Three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
At 5'8", 205 pounds, Maurice Jones-Drew would not appear to be a running back capable of both bruising hits and game-breaking runs.
MJD has become one of the most elite players in the NFL and is already on his way to being one of the greatest players ever to wear a Jacksonville Jaguars uniform.
He has 7,268 career rushing yards, 76 career TDs and a 4.6 yards-per-carry average.
MJD runs as hard as any back in football, and yet few can track him down once he gets to the second level and into the open field.
Lastly, the video included above does not showcase MJD's speed, but rather is a nice reminder of the time he knocked Shawne Merriman flat on his back side.
Kansas City Chiefs: Dante Hall
Member of the Chiefs from 2000-2006
Two-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
Ah, yes, the original "X-Factor": Dante Hall.
In the mid-2000s, no player was as dangerous on kick returns as No. 82 of the Kansas City Chiefs. Hall posted 12,397 total return yards during his career. He also had 1,747 receiving yards and 21 TDs, 12 of which came on kick returns.
Hall was explosive from sideline to sideline, and squib kicks became a common occurrence when he lined up deep to receive.
Miami Dolphins: Ted Ginn Jr.
Member of the Dolphins from 2007-2009
Why has Ted Ginn's ample skill-set not translated to the NFL level?
He possesses so much talent and was such a thrill to watch at Ohio State, but has failed to score more than two touchdowns in a season at the NFL level.
At any rate, Ginn is still lethally quick and agile. He was scary good with the Buckeyes and has at least averaged 23.2 yards per kick return in the NFL.
In his three seasons with Miami, Ginn had 36 punt returns for 312 yards and one TD. He also had 147 kickoff returns for 3,386 yards and two TDs.
Minnesota Vikings: Randy Moss
Member of Vikings from 1998-2004
Six-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro
Any time Randy Moss ran a vertical route for the Minnesota Vikings, it was "Straight Cash Homie."
Did you get the reference?
If not, you are missing out on one of the single funniest moments in NFL history.
Anyway, Moss ran a 4.25-second 40-yard dash at the 1998 NFL combine and immediately became one of the biggest home run threats in all of football.
His 153 touchdowns rank fifth all time and second among receivers (Jerry Rice).
New England Patriots: Jeff Demps
Member of the Patriots 2012-Present
A silver medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and the 100-meter World Junior record holder with a time of 10.01 seconds, Jeff Demps is likely the fastest player in the NFL today.
The problem is that he is currently listed on the injured reserve for the New England Patriots and has yet to actually play at the professional level.
Still, Demps demonstrated his speed plenty of times during his career with the Florida Gators and will undoubtedly become a force to be reckoned with once he finally hits an NFL field.
New Orleans Saints: Larry Burton
Member of the Saints from 1975-1977
OK, so you know Trey Burton? The QB/TE/HB for the Florida Gators?
Well, he is actually a grandson of one of the least talked about speedsters ever to play in the NFL: Larry Burton.
Burton was a world-class sprinter who finished fourth in the 200-meter race at the 1962 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.
His NFL career was not illustrious, but Burton did manage to record 35 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns in his three seasons with the Saints.
New York Giants: Spider Lockhart
Member of the Giants from 1965-1975
Two-time Pro Bowler
We step into the way-back machine for the New York Giants inclusion on this list: Spider Lockhart.
Lockhart was a defensive back that played on some pretty awful Giants teams in the 1960s.
He managed to shine through one of the worst secondaries in NFL history and recorded 41 interceptions in his career.
Lockhart was a great hurdler, a tremendous athlete and also a gifted punt returner. He was dangerous in coverage and as a blitzer.
New York Jets: Laveranues Coles
Member of the Jets from 2000-2002 and 2005-2008
One-time Pro Bowler
Laveranues Coles was fast. Real fast.
It is hard to put into words the type of blazing speed he possessed, but it is safe to say he could streak past any defender on their best day.
Coles spent the majority of his professional career with the Jets, racking up 459 receptions for 5,941 yards and 37 TDs in seven seasons for "Gang Green."
Oakland/LA Raiders: Bo Jackson
Member of the Raiders from 1987-1990
One-time Pro Bowler
Bo Jackson may be the sporting world's greatest case of "What Could Have Been."
At 6'1", 227 pounds, Bo knew how to do it all and do it all well. He played in the NFL and MLB while excelling at both.
His hand-timed 4.12-second 40-yard dash is still the fastest ever recorded, and he was able to combine that speed with a downhill running style unlike any other.
Imagine lining up across from Jackson and trying to stop him.
Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson
Member of the Eagles from 2008-Present
Two-time Pro Bowler
The current Philadelphia Eagles roster contains two of the fastest players in NFL history in DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick, but Jackson gets the edge here.
The wide receiver/kick returner has made a name for himself with his cocky attitude and brash playing style, but on most nights he backs it up.
Jackson has made two Pro Bowls in his young career and should give defenders nightmares for the next decade.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ike Taylor
Member of the Steelers from 2003-Present
Many will try to make the claim that Mike Wallace is the fastest Pittsburgh Steelers player both right now and in history, but they would be wrong.
It is Wallace's teammate, Ike Taylor, that holds that distinction.
Taylor may not have run at the NFL combine, but he has recorded an (unofficial) 4.18-second 40-yard dash.
Taylor has intercepted 14 passes over the course of his career and continues to be an integral part of the Steelers secondary.
San Diego Chargers: Darren Sproles
Member of the Chargers from 2005-2010
There was a reason San Diego Chargers fans affectionately referred to running back Darren Sproles as the "Lightning Bug."
This 5'6", 181-pound speedster can flat-out fly.
Whether he is utilizing his talents in the backfield, on kick returns or even sneaking into the slot as a receiver, Sproles always makes an impact on games.
Sproles recorded 9,958 all-purpose yards in five seasons with San Diego and also scored 21 TDs.
San Francisco 49ers: Renaldo Nehemiah
Member of the 49ers from 1982-1984
Former World Record holder in the hurdles
So, you have never heard of Renaldo Nehemiah?
Well, then check out the old and grainy video above to get a better sense of the man, the myth and the legend that he is.
Nehemiah was the first man ever to run the hurdles in under 13 seconds and played three seasons as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers.
Did he have a great NFL career?
No, he caught just 43 passes and had four touchdowns, but he sure was fast.
Seattle Seahawks: Daryl Turner
Member of the Seahawks from 1984-1987
A common phrase surrounding great WRs is, "All he does is catch TDs."
Seattle Seahawks WR Daryl Turner actually lived up to that moniker. He was perhaps the greatest home run hitter in NFL history, recording 36 touchdowns on just 101 receptions and setting an NFL record with a 36 percent touchdown/catch ratio.
That's right, Turner found the end zone about one out of every three times he caught a pass. Turner averaged 18.5 yards per reception in his four-year career with Seattle, and he set a Seahawks rookie record with 10 TD receptions in 1984.
St. Louis/LA Rams: Ron Brown
Member of the Rams from 1984-1989, 1991
Olympic athletes are quickly becoming a theme on this list, and Ron Brown is no exception.
The Rams running back was a gold-medal winner at the 1984 Summer Games and decided to try his hand on the gridiron.
Unfortunately, Brown was much better at the 4x100 than at football.
His career was nothing special, but in 1985, Brown did have three kick return touchdowns.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joey Galloway
Member of the Buccaneers from 2004-2008
Joey Galloway may have played for six NFL franchises and slowed down toward the end of his career, but in his prime years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, few players were faster.
Galloway spent five years with the Buccaneers in the mid-2000s, catching 248 passes for 3,912 yards and 28 touchdowns in that time frame.
Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson
Member of the Titans from 2008-Present
Three-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
When Chris Johnson ran a 4.24-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, people took notice.
He can accelerate and burst through the line of scrimmage faster than perhaps any running back in NFL history, and once he turns on the jets, there is literally no catching him.
Johnson's career has seen its fair share of ups and downs, but in 2009 he set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage.
Washington Redskins: Darrell Green
Member of the Redskins from 1983-2002
Seven-time Pro Bowler and one-time first-team All-Pro
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 2008
Only one player has been named the NFL's fastest man four times. That man is Darrell Green.
Green's speed is awe-inspiring, but it becomes even more impressive when you consider the duration of his career. Green spent 20 seasons in the NFL, all with the Redskins.
Playing in your 40s and still competing with men half your age is truly a magnificent athletic feat.
No receiver had an easy path to the end zone with Green chasing him. That's assuming, of course, that they actually found a way to beat him for a catch in the first place.