Another week, another athlete potentially in a race Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.
This time, it’s Miami Dolphins wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., whom the Titans face on Sunday at LP Field.
According to both players, a meeting at a pool party in South Florida over the off-season set of a debate about who was faster and with Ginn challenging Johnson to a race. Johnson said he accepted the challenge and Ginn did not show up for it.
“We were in Miami over the off-season. We were at a pool party, and him and Joey Porter were talking a little trash about the race or whatever, and they thought I wasn’t going to be up for it,” Johnson said. “But I was up for it and he just backed out. I was on my way down to the street, and they never game. They didn’t get on the elevator. … They wanted to race but when it really got down to it, they backed out.”
Ginn tells a slightly different story.
“It wasn’t anything like I didn’t show up,” Ginn told South Florida reporters Wednesday. “It wasn’t like I went to him to say, ‘Let’s race.’ There were some guys at the party who wanted to say who was faster, so they started the rumor. It’s not like I’m denying it or I’m scared of him.”
Asked who would win the race, Johnson said, “You know how it would have ended up. He knows too. That’s why he didn’t come.”
To which Ginn said, “I feel like I could be him. He feels like he could beat me.”
Johnson also offered that perhaps Ginn and Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who said he could beat Johnson in a sprint, should get together and race each other and that he would be willing to take on Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt himself.
“Rondo should have called him. That’s what Rondo should have done. It’s not that they don’t learn, it’s just that they want to be heard,” Johnson said. “They want to pull a publicity stunt, basically. If you say something and you really don’t go through with it, then you’re really not with it. You just want a publicity stunt. When I said I’d race Usain Bolt in the 40 or 50, I’d really show up for that race.”
Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder not only sided with C.J. in the debate with Ginn, but said he might pick him over the Olympic champion, Bolt, too.
“He might roll Bolt in the 100,” Crowder told the Miami media. “Y’all don’t know how fast that boy is. He is fast, fast, fast. Flat-out FAST — capital letters.”
Johnson ran a 4.24 at the NFL Combine in 2008, and said Wednesday Ginn only seems fast because he played in the traditionally plodding Big Ten. Ginn, a hurdles champion in high school, ran a 4.38 40-yard dash for pro scouts before he entered the NFL draft in 2007.
“He’s pretty fast, but where a lot of people get mistaken at is the conference he played in, the Big Ten. They’re a slow conference, so it automatically makes him look like he’s a real fast guy,” Johnson said. “He ran a 4.4 when he came out.”
Linebacker Keith Bulluck said that Ginn, who has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, is plenty fast, but that Johnson is the more dynamic playmaker on the football field. The stats bear that out, as Johnson leads the NFL with 1,626 yards while Ginn, a receiver, has 28 catches for 314 yards this season.
“He may be faster, but he definitely doesn’t make as many plays as C.J. makes. This guy [Johnson] makes more than one play a week,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
In addition to quarterback Vince Young, who is sat out with a hamstring issue, several veterans were given the day off from Wednesday’s practice, including linebacker Bulluck who was a bit under the weather.
Center Kevin Mawae sat out to rest a back injury, while defensive tackle Tony Brown was out with a knee injury. David Thornton (shoulder), Craig Stevens (concussion) and defensive end Eric Bakhtiari (concussion) were all out as well.
Receiver Nate Washington (ankle) was limited on Wednesday.
Bulluck was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after two interceptions against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Bulluck and teammate Cortland Finnegan had two picks apiece off rookie quarterback Keith Null in the 44-7 rout of the Rams.
Vincent Fuller also had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Bulluck was also part of a Titans defense that held Steven Jackson to a season-low 47 yards rushing. Bulluck totaled 10 tackles in the game, including one for loss and also had three passes defensed.
Steven Jackson’s season low 47-yard effort against the Titans for the Rams on Sunday got even worse Wednesday when the NFL’s official statisticians reviewed a swing pass that was originally credited as an eight-yard run and changed it to a forward pass.
That means Jackson finished the game with 39 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher will head to Chattanooga Friday night to see his son Brandon play the final game of his college career in the FCS.
Brandon Fisher, who played at Christ Presbyterian Academy, is a starting linebacker for the Montana Grizzlies who will face Villanova for the title. He knocked down a pass on the Grizzlies’ goal-line stand that preserved a win at the end of their semifinal game last week against Appalachian state.
“That’s a tremendous program at that level, a very, very solid coaching staff and great bunch of kids. I’ve gotten close to them over the years, know many of them very well and I’m happy for all of them,” Jeff Fisher said.
Asked which games are more nerve wracking for him to watch, his or Brandon’s, the Titans coach said, “My games are a walk in the park compared to this. I get real worked up. You can’t control anything. I’m a dad.”