Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester are widely considered to be among the NFL’s fastest players, but how would they fare compared to nature’s most fleet-footed animal? Sports fans will soon have the answer, thanks to Nat Geo Wild’s upcoming “Man vs. Cheetah” special.
Johnson and Hester have agreed to race a cheetah on “Man vs. Cheetah,” part of Nat Geo Wild’s fourth-annual “Big Cat Week” coverage, The Wrap reports. The special, which will pit the NFL stars’ speed and agility against that of a cheetah, will air in November.
“This is the most incredibly challenge I’ve ever faced,” Johnson, 27, told The Wrap. “I wanted to go up against the fastest in the world and test myself, and this was it!”
According to NFL combine records, Johnson is officially considered to be the fastest player in the NFL, having run a 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds, The Wrap notes. In 2009, Johnson earned the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year award after becoming just the seventh player in league history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. The Titans running back is also one of the league’s best in terms of vertical leap and broad jump.
Hester is also a decorated NFL athlete, holding the league’s all-time record for most kicks and punts returned for touchdowns, The Wrap notes. In “Man vs. Cheetah,” the Bears star will reportedly run “four lengths down and back,” in order to “reveal significant weaknesses in cheetah evolution and physiology.
"We loved the idea of a face-off like no other between supreme athletes and an alpha predator," Geoff Daniels, executive vice president and general manager of Nat Geo Wild, told The Wrap. “Man vs. Cheetah” will address several questions about each competitor’s physical capabilities, such as potential advantages and weaknesses.
The cheetah may be the world’s fastest land animal, but don’t expect Johnson to back down. In 2012, the 27-year-old told reporters that he believed he could outrun Usain Bolt—generally considered to be the fastest human in history—if the race took place over a 40-yard distance.