New 40 Yards Of Gold Event Mired In Dispute Over Origin
An old idea is making a comeback this weekend in South Florida, where two former Michigan football players will stage a sprinting tournament for NFL players. However, there is a dispute over who created the concept. The event, dubbed "40 Yards of Gold," comes to the table without official involvement of either the NFL or the NFLPA, but it has secured NFL players including Saints RB Alvin Kamara, Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. and Jets WR Robby Anderson. The event features a $1M prize to the winner of the 16-man, single-elimination bracket of head-to-head 40-yard dashes, and will be available on PPV. 40 Yards of Gold co-Founders Charles Stewart and Alijah Bradley say their event is unprecedented, but it shares important features with the defunct “NFL’s Fastest Man” tournament, which ran 11 times from '86-97 on NBC with an official NFL license. In a June 10 press release, 40 Yards of Gold said the event would stage a speed tournament “for the first time ever,” a claim of originality they repeated in interviews this week. Bob Basche, who created the NFL’s Fastest Man property in the '80s as a co-Founder of Millsport complained about the new event in an email to PPV industry vet Mark Taffet, who is leading 40 Yards of Gold’s distribution. “Although your event is very different in format it still is a copy-cat version of the original Fastest Man,” wrote Basche, now a partner at Sygnificant Productions. “I hope that at some point of the telecast you would acknowledge that fact.”
NO INTENT TO STEAL: Taffet says there was no intent to steal credit, and tweeted on Thursday, “As the inaugural 40 Yards of Gold super race approaches, a nostalgic thanks to Bob Basche for those Fastest Man events which I watched as a young man.” But Stewart disputes Basche’s claims, insisting he was unaware of the earlier event. “It’s not his idea,” Stewart said. “I have a whole tech aspect to this. His event, I never even saw his event, they had no tech in it. I don’t know what the format of his event was. I’m not acknowledging anything he did. Whatever he did was whatever he did in his time. I wasn’t watching. I don’t know what he did. I know what I have coming up Saturday is unlike anything else in sports, entertainment or technology.” The event in the '80s and '90s was a tournament, won by Pro Football HOFer Darrell Green four times. The key difference is that the races were 60 yards, not 40. Stewart and Bradley say 40 Yards of Gold is unique because it is on PPV, includes social media fan engagement elements and high-tech production from Qunice Imaging, which will create compelling digital backdrops to the races. Basche said he was not satisfied with Taffet’s tweet. “For me it is a nice acknowledgement as a tweet from Mark Taffet (how many eyeballs follow him), but I would be much more satisfied if there was some type of ‘in program’ acknowledgement by the talent somewhere in their introduction of the event,” Basche said.
NOT WORRIED ABOUT MONEY: Stewart and Bradley declined to share any mid-week figures on ticket or PPV sales. Tickets were available for $20-400 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Ticketmaster. They declined to identify their investors, but said this initial event does not need to be profitable. “It would be successful if we just execute,” Stewart said. “We’re not super focused on how much money will be made.”