PASADENA, Calif. — What started as a challenge at the NFL Scouting Combine turned into so much more for Rich Eisen.
Last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, the NFL Network host participated in his 18th “Run Rich Run”. Eisen donned his suit and tie to run the 40-meter sprint in the iconic stadium, celebrating its centenary this year.
“Run Rich Run” will air during Saturday’s coverage of the final day of the NFL Draft on NFL Network.
The Rose Bowl also holds special significance for Eisen. He covered the 1990 game as a student at the University of Michigan. It was Bo Schembechler’s last game as the Wolverines lost to USC.
“I always dreamed of having a career in sports, broadcasting or television, or something like that. I love being back here at the Rose Bowl with an event like this. Words can’t describe how cool it is,” Eisen said.
Eisen’s first dash came during a lull at the 2005 combine, when Terrell Davis thought Eisen was joking when he asked Davis how fast he thought he could run.
Eisen ran 6.77 seconds at the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis without any training and with wingtips in 2005. It was his slowest time.
His fastest was 5.94 in 2016, one of four times he was under six seconds.
A photo of Eisen performing 40 was the cover of his 2008 book. A silhouette of him running in a suit and tie is the logo for his talk show.
Since 2015, “Run Rich Run” has also been a fundraising event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Last year’s campaign raised a record $1.7 million.
Fans for the past seven years were encouraged to submit videos on social media of themselves performing the 40s using the hashtag #RunRichRun or #RunYour40.
“It’s become so ingrained in everything I do. It was a total lark (in 2005),” Eisen said. “The league and the network are supporting it by asking people across the country to run around in their work gear or work clothes and send in videos. I’ve seen people in firefighters, in hazmat suits, in lab coats, in high heels, in work clothes. It just blows my mind.
Until 2020, Eisen’s run took place during the combine and was shown on the final day of coverage. When the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2021 combine, the event had to find a new venue. He also saw an opportunity to increase participation.
Last year’s event took place at SoFi Stadium before the draft. While Eisen’s scorecard remained the highlight, NFL legends teamed up with contractors to run. Each pair ran a 40-yard dash, with the lowest combined time declared the winner.
Former players Cris Carter, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Vick, Rod Woodson, Robert Griffin III and Eric Metcalf ran this year. The entrepreneurs who participated were Vinit Bharara, Melissa Bridgeford, Michael Jaconi, Alex Lieberman, Marc Lore and Sebastian Tomich.
Lore, co-owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is the one who came up with the idea last year to pair legends with entrepreneurs.
“We get to meet people in a different light than we normally would meet,” Carter said. “We have a lot of good people in the league. And that’s what Rich is. We largely support it.
The 18th Annual Run Rich Run Campaign continues to raise awareness and support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Eisen, the legends and entrepreneurs, were also joined by Alexander, an 11-year-old patient from St. Jude who served as the official timekeeper. Alexander was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in 2017, a form of brain cancer. He was treated at St. Jude and is now cured of cancer.
“He got a call (earlier last week) saying he just got a clean scanner for the first time in a long time. And he runs, his mother is there and doesn’t care about anything except being here at the Rose Bowl and running around. So that’s pretty cool,” Eisen said.
“It looks easy, just run in a straight line. But it is a significant physical effort. And certainly, as you get older, it becomes all the more difficult. But I will as long as someone wants to watch a middle-aged man run and raise money for St. Jude.
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