Remember former Florida sprinter and wide receiver John Capel? After winning the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2000—and stumbling to eighth in the Sydney Games—he left college early for the NFL and was picked in the seventh round of the 2001 draft by the Chicago Bears. Instead of thriving as a wideout, though, Capel made his mark as a spliff end. In short order he tested positive for marijuana at the draft combine; had the only unexcused absence from the NFL's rookie symposium; and, after several run-ins with Bears management, was released before training camp even started.
Fast forward to last Saturday at the Adidas, when Capel—running in his first outdoor meet since the Olympics—finished second as a late entry in the 100 (.05 seconds ahead of Greene) and cut through the rain to win the 200 in 20.38, upsetting Great Britain's Dwain Chambers (who took sixth in 21.20). Capel's return to the track, he says, was sealed by a conversation with Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, who cut him from Kansas City's practice squad in August 2002. "He told me about how many other guys he's seen who had my talent but pissed it all away because of their attitude," says Capel, 24. "So I took a hard look at myself: Am I really that big of a butt head to make people not want to be around me? And I was. I've still got a long way to go, but I've matured a lot."
Now married with a baby daughter, Capel is back in Gainesville training under his former college coach Mike Holloway. "He's a changed man," Holloway says. "John's work ethic is better, his attitude is better, and he's more humble now. Football taught him a lesson: Nothing is guaranteed just because you're fast."
It's something Capel remembered three months ago when he was selected in the NFL Europe draft by the Scottish Claymores. "I tried football and it didn't work out, so I need to do what I do best," he says. "My place is on the track right now." After Capel's triumphant return last week, nobody would disagree.