DK Metcalf did not run fast enough in the 100 meters Sunday to advance to the finals in his professional track debut.
But the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver fared better than some expected for an NFL player competing against some of the world's top sprinters. With an official time of 10.37 seconds, Metcalf finished last among the nine in his heat and 15th among the 17 who competed in the USA Track and Field Golden Games and Distance Open in Walnut, California.
"These are world-class athletes," Metcalf said afterward on NBC streaming service Peacock, which broadcast the event, when asked whether he learned anything by competing in the event. "They do this for a living. It's very different from football speed, from what I just realized. So, like I said, just excited to be out here."
American Isiah Young had the lowest time of the first two heats of the 100 meters with a 10.09. The two times Metcalf beat were 10.38 (Derick Silva of Brazil) and 10.44 (American Maurice Eaddy).
Metcalf's performance drew praise on Twitter from fellow Seahawks teammates Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Tyler Lockett and Quandre Diggs.
"Amazing Bro!" Wilson tweeted. "Rollin!"
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was impressed as well.
10.36 is crazy tho at that size!! Mad respect! @dkm14— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) May 9, 2021
Former Olympic sprinter Ato Boldon said on the broadcast beforehand that something in the range of 10.6-10.7 would be a good time for the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Metcalf.
"He did not embarrass himself," Boldon said of Metcalf. "He hung with the pack. Yes, I think he's eighth. But he ran well. I didn't think he was going to run anywhere near that well."
Before Sunday, Metcalf hadn't competed in track since high school, when he was a standout hurdler and long-jumper and also competed on Oxford High School's 4x100 meter relay team in Mississippi. He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 scouting combine and reached a top speed of 22.64 mph when he chased down the Arizona Cardinals' Budda Baker to prevent him from scoring a defensive touchdown last October, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That was the fourth-fastest max speed by any NFL player on a single play last season.
A deferential and appreciative Metcalf said on the Peacock broadcast that he wanted to test his speed "against world-class athletes like this." He called the opportunity to do so a blessing. Asked why he wasn't afraid of the risk he could be taking by competing against professionals, Metcalf said: "Because I'm a football player and an athlete first, and a man of God. So I just do things because I want to do it."
Metcalf tweeted Sunday evening: "Thank God for the opportunity. Thank @usatf for allowing me to come out today, thank my coaches, PT's, family, and friends that supported!"
Thank God for the opportunity. Thank @usatf for allowing me to come out today, thank my coaches, PT's, family, and friends that supported!— DK Metcalf (@dkm14) May 10, 2021
Metcalf made the Pro Bowl last season after catching 83 passes for a franchise-record 1,303 yards.
The day after his instantly viral chase-down of Baker, USA Track and Field tweeted a light-hearted invitation for NFL players to test their speed "against real speed" at the Olympic trials. Metcalf replied, "See you there." Metcalf's agent called USATF's Adam Schmenk a few days later.
"DK's agent told us that he really wants to try to make the Olympics and asked what steps he needs to take," Schmenk told Yahoo Sports. "We walked him through what the auto qualifying time was that he would have to run in a sanctioned USATF event and told him that we would help him find a lane if and when he wanted to do this."
The commonly cited time that Metcalf would have likely needed to run in order to qualify for Olympic trials was 10.2 or better. USATF lists 10.05 as the automatic qualifying standard.
Per Yahoo Sports, Metcalf's agent called Schmenk a second time the day after the Seahawks' wild-card loss to the Los Angeles Rams in January to tell him that Metcalf had already turned his focus to training for the 100 meters.
"This should encourage every fast NFL guy -- Tyreek Hill, are you listening? -- this should encourage every fast NFL guy, you're not that far off. Some more training, maybe you get in the conversation for the Olympic trials for the United States. Great run by DK," Boldon said on the broadcast.
Metcalf was asked in his postrace interview on Peacock if his performance will convince him that he should make another run at qualifying for the Olympic team, and perhaps lose some weight during the NFL offseason to aid his speed.
"I've got minicamp to go to," he said with a laugh. "Like I said, just excited."