At Let’s Run the following question was posed:
In any of the major sports – pro baseball, football, basketball or even soccer could any athlete in the top professional league beat Ashton Eaton if they competed in one event?
It devolves into the usual, six pages of poor thinking and insults. But the question itself is an interesting one, and worth looking at.
Let’s go through the decathlon events, one by one.
100 meters. Eaton’s PR of 10.21 is faster than all but a few dozen NFLers have ever run. The two fastest ever are Trindon Holliday and Jacoby Ford, with PRs of 10.00 and 10.01, and both are active NFL players. I suspect it wouldn’t take much track-specific training and racing for them to be able to beat Eaton, but no one else can.
Long Jump. Only one NFL player in history has ever long jumped further than Eaton’s 27′ 3/4″ from last weekend, and that’s Eric Metcalfe, the former career punt return scoring record holder. No current pro athlete can jump within the same zip code as Eaton.
Shot Put. Here’s where Eaton is beatable by many. More than two dozen college football players this year alone threw further than Eaton’s PR of 14.74. The best of them, Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s offensive lineman and shot put All-American Terron Armstead, is a realistic NFL prospect. It wouldn’t be hard to find an NFL lineman or linebacker who could beat Eaton. Interestingly enough, the second-best shot putter ever to play in the NFL is Jeff Stover, who doubled up in track at Oregon.
High Jump. Eaton might be able to be beaten here, as well. His career best is 6′ 11″, and Oregon State’s wide receiver Obum Gwachum has beaten that several times. (Yes, Gwachum is a collegian and not a pro, but this is for comparison’s sake.) One presumes that if you couldn’t find a seven-foot high jumper in the NFL, you could find one in the NBA.
400 meters. Only four NFL players have ever run faster than Eaton’s PR of 45.39, and none of them are active. Interestingly enough, one of them is Patrick Johnson, who also ran track at Oregon.
110 meter hurdles. Eaton’s PR of 13.34 is insanely fast. Only four NFLers in history have ever run faster than that, and three of them earned World Rankings in the hurdles: Renaldo Nehemiah, Willie Gault, and Rod Woodson. No one in any pro sport could come close to Eaton.
Discus Throw. Eaton isn’t a terribly good discus thrower. For comparison’s sake, he wouldn’t rank in the top 20 this year’s college footballers who also throw the discus. You’d have to presume you could find a former discus thrower in the NFL who could beat him given a bit of practice time.
Pole Vault. The only professional athletes who can beat what Eaton did on Saturday are professionals in track and field. If there are pro athletes who had been good pole vaulters at one point in their life, they’d still be lucky to be within five feet of him right now.
Javelin Throw. Eaton’s weak points are all of the throws. The only part of his body that isn’t a lightning bolt is his right arm. It wouldn’t be hard to find an NFL quarterback or major league pitcher who could beat him in the jav.
1500 meters. Eaton ran about the equivalent of a 4:35 mile on Saturday. It would be hard to find anyone who could beat that who is currently in the NFL, NHL, NBA or major leagues. However, I think there are probably a few in MLS who could do it.
So…Ashton Eaton versus the entirety of North American major professional sports leagues? I think Eaton probably wins. That’s how good he is.