You could call Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson and Chicago Bears receiver Devin Hester the cheetahs of the NFL. Johnson set a record at the 2008 NFL Combine by running a 4.24 40-yard dash, and Hester's 12 punt returns for touchdowns are the most in NFL history.
So yeah, these guys are fast. But to find out how fast, they're going to race the world's speediest land mammal: The two stars will race a cheetah — yes, a cheetah — for the upcoming TV show Man vs. Cheetah, which will air on Nat Geo Wild in November.
When the race was announced last week, it got everyone talking. Us? It got us thinking about what other athlete-animal races we'd like to see. Check out the four matchups below, and tell us who you think would win in a race!
LeBron James vs Lion
When LeBron James steamrolls down the court to the hoop, he looks like a lion rumbling to catch its prey – big, fast, determined and intimidating. You don't want to see King James coming at you full speed. And you never want to be in the path of a lion — the king of the jungle is one of the most intimidating animals in nature.
WINNER: LeBron James
There's no stopping James in the open court, and he'll be even faster if he doesn't have to dribble a basketball. Plus, there's no greater motivation to run as fast as possible than running alongside one of nature's most vicious predator.
Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Red Fox
Jacoby Ellsbury is a sneaky-fast athlete: he leads the MLB in stolen bases with 39. And just like the Red Sox outfielder, red foxes are small but elusive. They also have great awareness of their surroundings — exactly what it takes to steal bases.
WINNER: Red Fox
In a 90-feet race, Jacoby Ellsbury takes this easy. But go further, and things get iffy. Ellsbury doesn't have to run long distances when he's stealing a base, so the red fox would probably have better endurance. (Ellsbury would definitely win a home run derby, though.)
Tony Parker vs. Ostrich
With a rare combination of speed and endurance, Tony Parker never stops running. That’s why he’d be the perfect opponent for an ostrich, which can hit 43 mph and maintain a high speed for several miles.
According to a study, ostriches need only half the energy humans do when we hit our highest speed. Sorry, Tony.
Adrian Peterson vs. Gazelle
Fast athletes are often compared to gazelles because of their graceful running style, and there’s no better runner in the NFL right now than Adrian Peterson. Gazelles can swiftly get away from predators, while Peterson uses a variety of strength and speed moves to dominate defenses.
WINNER: Adrian Peterson
Peterson almost broke the single-season rushing record last season, despite suffering a major knee injury in 2011. So it would be foolish to count him out of any race. Plus, gazelles can't even outrun lions -- in a head-to-head with AP, the animal would have no chance.
Photos: LeBron James and Tony Parker, John W. McDonough for Sports Illustrated; Jacoby Ellsbury, Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images; Adrian Peterson, Robert Beck for Sports Illustrated; Lion, Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images; Fox, Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images; Ostrich, Altrendo Nature/Getty Images; Gazelle, Werner Bollmann/Getty Images
After "Man vs. Cheetah," Four More (Imaginary) Athlete-Animal Races
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