NEW YORK - Stars of NFL Championship Games spanning the last three decades will trade in their cleats for spikes in the Super 60 at the 103rd Millrose Games.
A new event highlighting the track speed of some of the NFL's most recognizable Super Bowl heroes, the Super 60 is expected to feature the New York Giant's Super Bowl XLI hero David Tyree, ex-Chicago Bear wide receiver and world-class sprinter/hurdler Willie Gault, and Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl kickoff return star Tim Dwight.
To be held January 29 in Madison Square Garden, the Millrose Games is the first stop of USA Track & Field's Visa Championship Series. The longest-running annual event held at The Garden, The Millrose Games features some of America's and the world's top track and field talent. The meet will be televised live on January 29 on ESPN2 from 8-10 p.m. Eastern Time.
The Super 60 will take that worn-out commentator's phrase, "this football game has turned into a track meet" and make it literal. Pride will be on the line as youth takes on experience in a field that includes athletes with both track and football chops.
Early handicapping may cast an eye toward David Tyree, a prep track star at Montclair (N.J.) High School and a 2005 Pro Bowl selection who became a part of Giants' lore when he made "The Catch," sealing his team's victory over the New England Patriots in 2008's Super Bowl XLI. The seven-year NFL veteran pinned an Eli Manning pass to his helmet with one hand for the game's pivotal pass completion.
A 1998 graduate of Montclair High, Tyree continues to use his speed as a special teams coverage specialist for the Baltimore Ravens, who remain active in the NFL Playoffs after a resounding victory Sunday afternoon over the Patriots. Tyree ran the 200m and 400m at Montclair and was a letter winner in track and football at Syracuse University.
Track aficionados may give the nod to Willie Gault, one of the fastest track athletes ever to play football. At age 49, the man who organized "The Super Bowl Shuffle" is still one of the fastest men in the world. Gault starred for the Chicago Bears in their 46-10 Super Bowl XX victory over the New England Patriots in 1985, just two years after being part of a world record-setting USA 4x100m relay team that won the gold at the 1983 World Track & Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Gault also won bronze in the 110m hurdles in Helsinki.
Part of a world-record-setting relay team at the University of Tennessee (where he also starred in football), Gault qualified for the 1980 Olympic Games. After retiring from football, he won a gold medal at the 1998 World Bobsled Championships with the 4-man bobsled team. Gault eventually returned to track and field as a masters athlete, training with the Los Angeles-based H.S.I. group that has included athletes such as Maurice Greene. In 2006, Gault broke the world record in the men's 45-49 age group 100 meters, running 10.72 seconds in the 100 meters in a special masters race at the USA Outdoor Championships when he was 45. Two years later he ran 21.80 for 200 meters, at the age of 47, at the Mt. SAC Relays to break the world age-group record in that event. As recently as 2008, Gault reportedly was timed in 4.27 for the 40-yard dash - just .03 off the time attributed to the 2009 NFL rushing leader, 24-year-old Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans.
Not intimidated by either competitor, former NCAA track All-American Tim Dwight has been training this winter to hone the speed that famously got Super Bowl XXXIII off to a rousing start for the Atlanta Falcons. His 94-yard kick-off return to score in the 1998 NFL Super Bowl wasn't enough to give Atlanta the win over the Denver Broncos, but it was emblematic of the fearless running style Dwight was known for. Dwight's career continued with the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Oakland Raiders.
Dwight was a dual threat at The University of Iowa. He set career receiving and return records for the Hawkeye's football team while also winning the 1999 Big Ten Championships in the 100m and 4x100 and 4x400m relay teams, competing the year after his Super Bowl hijinks. Also in 1999 he earned All-America status as part of Iowa's 4x400m relay team. As a high schooler in Iowa City, Dwight won four straight state titles at 200 meters.
Additional Super 60 participants will be announced in coming weeks.For ticket and event information on the 2010 Millrose Games and the Visa Championship Series, visit: www.millrose-games.com or www.visachampionshipseries.com