Former Lions RB Jahvid Best now first former NFL player in summer Olympics

— -- Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best is set to become the first former NFL player to participate in the summer Olympic Games after being approved to represent St. Lucia in track and field next month in Rio.

Best will run in the 100 meters for St. Lucia, a Caribbean island with an estimated population of just over 163,000. Best was born in Vallejo, California, but his father holds dual citizenship in St. Lucia and the United States.

"This is a huge accomplishment for me, but at the same time this is just the beginning," Best told NBC Sports. "I have only been in this sport for two years professionally, and plan on being around for a long time."

Best will become the first player with prior NFL experience to compete in the Summer Games.  Marquise Goodwin competed for the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic long jump, but that was before he started his career as a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. Goodwin didn't qualify for the Olympic squad for Rio.

Best was the Lions' first-round draft pick in 2010 out of the University of California, but he played only two seasons in the NFL due to a series of concussions. After his retirement from the Lions, Best returned to Cal to finish his degree and serve as a graduate assistant for the Golden Bears.

According to, Best was a high school track star and returned to sprint training in 2015 with ALTIS, an athletic training center in Arizona with a strong pedigree of Olympic athletes.

The road to Rio began for Best after he posted a 10.16-second time in the 100 meters at a meet in Sacramento, California, on April 2. The time was within the Olympic qualifying standard for the event and allowed Best to be eligible to represent St. Lucia due to his father's citizenship.

"I just want to bring pride to St. Lucia, to the Olympic team, to the sport of athletics," Best told the St. Lucia News in a May interview. "I want to carry the flag around the track and make my family and country proud."

Best's time would have not been good enough to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team.

Other former NFL players have aimed for Olympic glory in Rio.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts special-teams player Jeff Demps was eliminated in the first round of the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials. Jarryd Hayne, a former San Francisco 49ers running back, also attempted to compete in Rio but failed to make Fiji's rugby sevens squad.