There is a long history of NFL players competing at the Summer Olympics, with 15 winning a gold medal. A total of 21 gold medals have been won by NFL players, with 14 of the 15 players winning their medals in Athletics. Let’s take a look at the 15 NFL players to have won an Olympic gold medal and which ones have won more than one.
How many NFL players have won multiple Olympic gold medals?
A total of five NFL players have won multiple gold medals at the Olympics, with the most recent occurring in 1968.
Glenn Davis, WR, Detroit Lions | 3 Golds – Athletics (1956 & 1960)
Glenn Davis competed in many track events during his career, but it was the 400 meters and 400m hurdles where he found Olympic success. Davis won 400m hurdles gold at both the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He is one of just four men to win the 400-meter hurdle twice. Davis also added gold in the 4×400-meter relay. He is a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame.
Davis went on to play wide receiver for the Detroit Lions following his track career. He played for two seasons, finishing his career with 10 receptions for 132 yards. Davis is often confused with Heisman Trophy-winning namesake Glenn Woodward Davis.
Jim Thorpe, TB-E-FB, Various | 2 Golds – Athletics (1912)
The first NFL player to win an Olympic gold medal was Jim Thorpe. He won gold medals in the newly-introduced Pentathlon and Decathlon events. He also competed in the long jump (seventh) and the high jump (fourth). Thorpe won eight of the 15 individual events across the decathlon and pentathlon. He did not place outside of fourth in any of the contests. Incredibly, he won the decathlon in a mismatched pair of shoes, one of which came from a trash can after his original shoes were stolen. Furthermore, Thorpe is a member of the US Olympic Hall of Fame.
Thorpe began his NFL career in 1920 at the age of 33. He would play for a total of eight seasons, spanning nine years. During that time, he played for the Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians, Rock Island Independents, New York Giants, and Chicago Cardinals. He has been inducted into the Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame.
Bob Hayes, Split End/Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys/San Francisco 49ers | 2 Golds – Athletics (1964)
After an incredible college career, Bob Hayes won two gold medals at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. During the 100 meters, he tied the then world record at 10.06. He managed that despite running in borrowed spikes and in a lane that was heavily damaged by the 20 KM racewalk the day before.
Hayes would also win gold in the 100m relay, with the team setting a new world record at 39.06 seconds. He produced one of the most memorable Olympic moments with a come from behind leg that was hand-timed between 8.5 and 8.9 seconds and is considered the fasted relay leg in history.
He played 11 years in the NFL (10 with the Cowboys, one with the 49ers). In his career, Hayes generated 371 receptions, 7,414 receiving yards, and 71 touchdowns. He also added 104 punt returns for 1,158 yards and 3 touchdowns, with 23 kick returns for 581 yards. He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Black College Football Hall of Fame, and the US Olympic Hall of Fame.
Henry Carr, S, New York Giants | 2 Golds – Athletics (1964)
After winning the 200 meter NCAA title, Carr won gold medals in the 200 meters and 4×400-meter relay at the Tokyo Olympics. He set a new Olympic record in the 200 meters and anchored the 4×400-meter team to a new world record (3:00.7). In 1997, he was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame.
The New York Giants selected Carr in the 1965 NFL Draft.The Kansas City Chiefs also drafted him in the 1965 AFL Draft. He chose to sign with the Giants, where he played 37 games. In his career, he totaled 7 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries, and scored a touchdown on a 101-yard interception return.
Jim Hines, WR, Miami Dolphins/Kansas City Chiefs | 2 Golds – Athletics (1968)
The last NFL player to win multiple Olympic gold medals was Jim Hines. Despite unrest in the US and questions surrounding a boycott by black athletes of the US team, he won gold in both the 100 meters and the 4×100-meter relay. His time of 9.95 was later recognized as a world record. He helped break another world record as a part of the 4×100-meter relay team.
Hines was drafted in the sixth round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins. He did not play in 1968 but did play in nine games in 1969. Hines finished his career with 2 receptions and 1 carry for a total of 30 yards. He added one kick return for 22 yards in 1969.
Has any NFL player won an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl?
Bob Hayes is the only NFL player to win a gold medal and a Super Bowl. He won Super Bowl VI as part of the Cowboys. He also played in Super Bowl V, when the Cowboys were defeated 16-13 by the Baltimore Colts. In total, Hayes played in 15 playoff games.
Other NFL players to win an Olympic gold medal
- John Spellman | Wrestling 1924
- Jim Bausch | Decathlon 1932
- Glenn Morris | Decathlon 1936
- Milt Campbell | Decathlon 1956 (Won Silver in 1952)
- Tommie Smith | 200 m 1968
- Gerald Tinker | 4×100 m relay 1972
- Lam Jones | 4×100 m relay 1976
- Ron Brown | 4×100 m relay 1984
- Sam Graddy | 4×100 m relay 1984 (Also won 100 m Silver in 1984)
- James Jett | 4×100 m relay 1992
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