Man vs. Cheetah: Do We Have a Chance?

Chris Johnson and Deven Hester, two of the NFL’s fastest players, are putting their speed to the test in a showdown in November. No, they aren’t  facing off against each other at Soldier or LP Field, they will be competing against a cheetah on Nat Geo Wild. It will be featured as part of the network’s “Big Cat Week” and is sure to draw in millions of viewers. As the race is mid-season, it is safe to assume that it has already been  recorded. Johnson is no stranger to challenging the best of the best. He famously stated in August 2012 that he could probably beat Usian Bolt in the 40yd Dash. That race will likely never come to fruition, but luckily we get a cheetah instead.

Tale of the Tape

CompetitorHeightWeightTop Speed40m Time100m Time
Devin Hester5'11"190lbs28mph4.4110.42
Chris Johnson5'11"191lbs28mph4.2410.38

Why We Don’t Have a Prayer

Cheetahs at full sprint have been clocked at up to 60mph. Yes, SIXTY MILES PER HOUR. When you are cruising down the highway, a cheetah could keep up with your car. Acceleration is just as impressive. Cheetahs can reach top speed a little over three seconds. Man, by comparison, has never eclipsed 28mph. Usain Bolt reached the top speed ever recorded (27.79mph) during a 100m sprint last year. Acceleration is another issue, as it takes most humans 5+ seconds to reach top speed from a standstill. You can see in the tale of the tape above that things don’t look great for mankind.

How We Can Pull an Upset

When running in the state track meet several years ago (against people way faster than our relay team), my coach uttered these words “Run the best that you can and hope that they don’t run theirs.” Man’s best chance at winning a race vs. a cheetah is the cheetah not running his best race. This could come in many forms. First, the course could be fairly wide, so the cheetah might not run in a straight line. I don’t know how far the track will be Second, the running surface could be unfamiliar for him/her. Cheetahs don’t often run on running tracks or whatever surface they might be running on. A slip could be enough to give Hester or Johnson the edge. Last, the cheetah might have no motivation to run its fastest. From my experience, cheetah’s aren’t motivated by being on national television. I’m sure the race will use a motorized “rabbit” for it to chase after, but it’s possible that the cheetah won’t be that interested.

Why We All Win

Ultimately, we are all going to be winners here. This made-for-TV event is sure to be filled with unnecessary drama and fluff, but it will be entertaining regardless. I’m excited to see how the actual race is set up and hopefully it will be a realistic depiction of all three competitors at their very best. Plus, we are all in for a treat any time that CJ2K does an interview. Was this topic worthy of a post? Absolutely not, but if you are reading this text, then you read the entire thing. The joke is on you. See you in November when we recap what happened on Nat Geo Wild.