Nobody in NFL Combine history has ever run as fast as John Ross did Saturday, as he blazed through 40 yards in 4.22 seconds, a record that garnered glowing reviews for the former University of Washington star from scouts.
But for all his speed, Ross couldn’t outrun the rules. And while his place in history books as the fastest NFL rookie ever is now secure, the wrong pair of cleats cost Ross the equivalent of $1 million.
Even given the NFL’s reputation for stringent uniform guidelines, that loss stands out.
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As you can see in the video above, Ross was clearly wearing Nike shoes when he made his record-breaking run. Specifically, he was wearing Nike Vapor 4.2s, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
And that little detail is what cost Ross. Shoe company Adidas, Nike’s main rival, was offering a private island worth up to $1 million to any player who broke the previous record of 4.24 seconds this weekend at the combine. Adidas never specified where that island would be, though ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell reported that the possibilities included North Carolina, Maine, Nicaragua and Belize.
The only catch was, the player needed to be wearing Adidas shoes when he was doing it. On the company’s website, it is the first condition listed in the contest. So Ross lost out on his own island, which seemed unfair to some fans.
However, before you feel too bad for Ross, Nike announced soon after his run that they had signed the speedy wide receiver to an endorsement deal.
Ross himself had a humorous take on the situation, telling a reporter soon after the run that he didn’t wear Adidas shoes because “I really can’t swim that well, and I don’t own a boat.”
As for Adidas, while many online joked that the apparel giant might be relieved it doesn’t have to fork over $1 million, others pointed out it has now lost out on a major opportunity and that it might be worrying to the company that an athlete would know the prize but still not wear their shoes.