Devin Hester

Willie Gault, who recently turned 50, says he can go to a track right now and run a 10.6-second 100-meter dash. The world record for people 50 years or older is 10.95 seconds, so the next time Gault competes in a Masters Track meet, he expects to break a 100-meter world record by a larger margin than Usain Bolt ever has.

And when you ask Gault, who played for the Bears from 1983 to 1987, whether there's anyone in today's NFL as fast as him, his answer comes quickly: "No."

A member of the 1980 Olympic track team that boycotted the Moscow Games, Gault was widely regarded as the fastest player in the NFL during his football career.

And he still looks youthful and athletic enough that he could probably walk out to Soldier Field, run a fly route and blow past most NFL safeties. Gault keeps himself in phenomenal physical condition and has set age group world records in several Masters Track events, and in an interview before the Bears' Monday Night Football game against the Packers, Gault said he still loves to keep an eye on the players in today's NFL who are almost (but not quite) as fast as he was.

Gault mentioned Tennessee's Chris Johnson and New Orleans' Reggie Bush as the players he sees in football these days who have the greatest pure, natural speed. He also cited Chicago's Devin Hester -- but he said that Hester demonstrates the distinction between track speed and football speed.

"Hester is coming into his own, but what he has is a combination of speed and moves," Gault said. "He's a couple steps slower than me in a straight line, but he has the ability to make quick cuts, he can run wearing pads, he can run with the ball in his hands -- it's a different style of running than you run in track."

Gault is still a Bears fan and feels the excitement in Chicago that comes with a 2-0 start, although he cautions that nothing that's happened so far should conjure images of the 1985 team that Gault played on just yet.

"Let's see in eight or ten weeks if they've separated themselves from the pack," Gault said.

That's what Gault could always do on the football field -- and what he still does on the track.

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