Andrew Hawkins is considered one of the fastest and shiftiest players in the NFL. The veteran Browns wide receiver has clocked a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash and has used that speed as an asset over the course of his career.
So when Hawkins met Justin Gatlin, who took home the silver medal Sunday night in the 100 meters at the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, at a tryout for the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2008 in Tampa, he wasn't sure what to expect.
"I didn't know who he was at the time," said Hawkins, who began his pro football journey as a tryout player for the Browns that same year, "but then he ran his 40 and it was like he shot out of a rocket. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen."
Gatlin, who was served an eight-year doping ban in 2006, was flirting with a career in football at the time. Hawkins wasn't sure if the sport was is in his future.
"He was very fast, if I was a GM I probably wouldn't have given him a contract," Hawkins said, laughing, "but he was extremely fast and, in his defense, he hasn't been playing football and he probably hadn't played before he came to that tryout."
The Browns face the Packers in the first game of the preseason at Green Bay.
Hawkins also added that there's no use comparing the league's speediest receivers and the likes of Usain Bolt, who won his third-straight gold medal in a blistering 9.81-second effort and whom Hawkins called "literally the fastest human to ever walk the face of the earth."
"You can't compare yourself to that," he said, laughing.
That includes Gatlin, too.
"He's 34 years old, he's still competing at a high level. (Football speed and Olympic track speed are) two different things, that's no dig at the guys who are out here who are also incredible freak athletes in their own right," Hawkins said.
"I think you just appreciate it and I think we all do. It's all we talk about all day."