Did Vai Go Sub-5 in the 40?

Back in April just before the NFL draft, my partner John Gonzalez at 97.5 The Fanatic asked me on the air what my 40-yard dash time was when I was still playing. I told him it wasn't fast but I was certain I could still run the same time today.

Gonzo was incredulous. "You are NUTS," he said. "You're 48 years old, dude!"

"Yep," I replied. I wasn't that fast when I played but I haven't lost that much of what I didn't have. I work out religiously, lift weights.

Coming out of BYU in 1986, I wasn't invited to the NFL Combine yet I was still drafted by the Cardinals, despite the fact they never came to work me out or time me in the 40. I made the team, was selected to two-straight Pro Bowls in my first two years and the Cardinals still had never timed my 40.

It wasn't until 1991, my fifth year in the league -- when I was a free agent -- that I was invited to run my first 40 in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins.

I was with a group of four or five other free agents and each of us was to run two 40s and they'd take our best time. Well, after I ran my first one, legendary coach Don Shula came to me and said, "I know you're supposed to leave tonight on a 6 p.m. flight, but you want to catch the 2 -- you're welcome to go." I asked what I ran and he simply held up the stopwatch. 4.8!

Sidebar… I ended up signing with the Green Bay Packers that year and as luck would have it, we played the Dolphins in Miami that October. In the second half, I retreated for a kickoff, which I fielded and sprinted up the Miami sideline. As I ran past and juked a number of Dolphins on my way to an 80-yard return, I could hear Shula screaming at his special teamers, "TACKLE HIM!!! HE'S A 4.8 GUY FOR HELL'S SAKE!!!" Somebody was listening because a safetyman ran me out of bounds at the 10-yard line.

Shula's instincts were right -- I didn't have breakaway speed.

I did, however, sign with the Eagles the following year and took a punt back 87 yards in Giants Stadium to set the franchise record for longest punt return. Believe it or not, I did it with guile, quickness and incredible vision. But I was no more than a 4.8 40 guy.

The question Wednesday was whether I could still run a 4.8 as I told Gonzo.

We took our radio show to Villanova Stadium to see.

At 11:30 in the morning morning, it happened.

I had two clocks on me, which is typical. One had me at 5.02 and the other at 4.89 -- if you're doing the math, the average is 4.995. That's about where I expected to be. Of course, I felt like my time was closer to the 4.89 than the 5.02, but that's just me. The idea today was whether I'd break the 5-second barrier.

It was fun. Exhilarating. And on video for posterity.

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