Marvin Bracy, who made the 100-meter semifinals at Olympic Games Rio 2016 for the United States, has signed a contract with the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League.
The 23-year-old Bracy’s pro football debut comes during the closing phases of NFL training camp as teams head into their preseason schedules. Bracy hopes to make the team as a wide receiver, with speed as his primary weapon to stretch the defense and open up the passing game for quarterback Andrew Luck.
The 5-foot-9 Bracy played wide receiver and ran track at Florida State University, where he was highly regarded as a high school All-American at wide receiver, but left the football team to pursue his track career before ever playing a down. He redshirted his first football season with the Seminoles in 2012, then switched to track full-time before the start of the 2013 season.
Bracy won three straight U.S. indoor titles in the 60-meter (2014-2016) with a personal best 6.48. He finished third in the 100-meter at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field to qualify for Rio, beating out Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers. Bracy finished 11th overall in Rio.
He missed the 2017 USATF Outdoor Championships in June due to a non-specified surgery.
“If I have to make a choice, I’m going to stick with the gridiron, if I have that opportunity,” Bracy said earlier this year during Florida State’s pro day in March for NFL scouts. “But if not, if track is what I’ve got to do, it’s what I’ve got to do, because I’ve got family to take care of.”
In April, Bracy tried out for the Carolina Panthers during minicamp but was not signed.
He joins a long list of at least 30 track and field athletes who have signed with or played in the NFL, most notably “Bullet” Bob Hayes, who became a Hall of Fame wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys after winning gold medals in both the 100-meter and the 4x100-meter.
Other notable U.S. Olympians and NFL players include James Jett, who won gold in the 4x100-meter at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992, then went on to a successful career as a receiver with the Oakland Raiders. Additionally, Super Bowl XX champion Willie Gault qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team but didn’t get the chance to compete in Moscow because of the U.S. boycott.
Fellow U.S. sprinter Jeff Demps, a member of the 4x100-meter team at Olympic Games London 2012, spent time with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and 2013.
Most recently, Super Bowl XLIX champion Nate Ebner took a leave of absence from the New England Patriots to compete for Team USA in rugby's return to the Olympics in Rio. The team finished ninth, and Ebner returned to the Patriots for their subsequent Super Bowl LI championship.