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Tyree, Gault, Dwight scheduled for race

1/12/2010

NEW YORK -- Call it a publicity stunt. USA Track and Field CEO Doug Logan doesn't seem to mind -- as long as the plan for football players to run a 60-meter dash at the Millrose Games draws attention.

"This is the year 2010. This is a sport that to a large degree has been passed by -- by other sports who have had the intelligence of understanding the demographic of what they're trying to sell that to," Logan told The Associated Press on Tuesday after USATF announced the special race.

"It does nothing to destroy authenticity. It does nothing to denigrate the true competition. It is truly trying to inject something that is entertaining and yet congruent with the sport," he said.

David Tyree, Willie Gault and Tim Dwight are scheduled to run the "Super 60" during the storied indoor track meet's 103rd edition Jan. 29. Organizers plan to add other football players to the field.

"This is a real distance. They're real athletes. We're not doing Bill Veeck put a midget in front of a pitcher," Logan said of the St. Louis Browns owner's famous 1951 stunt. "One of these days we might, but this isn't it."

That may depend on whether attendance at the Millrose Games continues to sag and interest in track in the United States in non-Olympic years continues to wane. Logan said Tuesday's announcement had already had its intended effect -- since a reporter asked him a question about it.

It remains to be seen whether the football names in the field are big enough to help sell Millrose tickets. Tyree will forever be revered in New York sports lore, but for his receiving skills, not his speed. The New Jersey native ran track at Syracuse before he made his game-saving catch against his helmet for the Giants in their 2008 Super Bowl victory over the the New England Patriots.

Gault won a bronze medal in the 110 hurdles at the 1983 world championships and a Super Bowl title with the Chicago Bears. At 49, he holds masters world records in his age group in the 100 and 200. Dwight, a Big Ten track champ at Iowa, returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Atlanta Falcons' Super Bowl loss in 1998.

Logan acknowledged he'd love to include Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in the mix. The NFL rushing champ, who considers himself the league's fastest player, suggested last month that he could beat Usain Bolt in a 50-meter race.

"Just stay tuned," Logan said. "This is somebody who claims he's the fastest. What better place to test that theory out than in front of a New York audience at a distance we know he can handle."