1. Bob Hayes (Cowboys/49ers, 1965-75) making up a massive amount of ground in the 4×100 relay at the ’64 Olympics:
2. Darrell Green (Redskins, 1983-2002) running down the Cowboys’ Tony Dorsett in the ’83 season opener:
3. Willie Gault (Bears/Raiders, 1983-93) zooming by everybody in the 100-yard dash final at the ’86 “Superstars” competition:
My two cents: I’m not sure any NFL player has run faster than “Bullet Bob” Hayes. Remember, those are the best sprinters in the world he’s blowing away down the stretch. As for Gault, an Olympic-caliber hurdler, he dusted a “Superstars” field that included James Lofton, Renaldo Nehemiah and St. Louis Cardinals base-stealer Vince Coleman (who was in camp with the ’82 Redskins as a receiver) — pretty fast company. Green is more of a What Might Have Been case. Like Gault, he gave up track after college to concentrate on football, though he went on to win all four of the NFL Fastest Man competitions he entered.
Then again, Ollie Matson (Cardinals/Rams/Lions/Eagles, 1952, ’54-66), another Olympian (bronze, 400 meters, 1952), has always had his supporters. Watch him take off here after nearly getting tripped up on a kickoff return:
The thing about Matson is that he was such a glider, it never looked like he was running that fast — until you noticed players disappearing behind him.
Granted, there are other worthy candidates for this list — including Ron Brown, the receiver-returner for the Rams and Raiders (1984-91) — but these are the best clips I could come up with. Feel free to submit your own.