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Devin Hester races big cat in 'Man v. Cheetah'

Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester tests his speed and agility against the world's fastest land mammal in Nat Geo WILD's "Man v. Cheetah."

The Big Cat Week special, airing at 8 p.m. Nov. 29, pits two cheetahs from Busch Gardens Florida against Hester and Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in races. A 10-foot-tall wall separates the competitors, which made Hester feel just a little better about the race.

"I hope it's not possible he can jump over this one," Hester says in the special after being told that cheetahs can jump up to 8 feet high. "If it comes down to it, I'm hoping I can get away from him."

According to the special, Hester is considered the NFL's most agile player and one of the greatest kick returners in history, while Johnson is officially the fastest active NFL player with a 4.24-second result in the 40-yard dash. Neither of them runs as fast as track star Usain Bolt, who set a world record in 2009 by posting a 9.58-second time in the 100-meter dash—nealry 28 miles per hour according to the special.

A cheetah's top speed is more than 60 miles per hour. The special shows cool computer-altered footage of Bolt's world-record race that adds a cheetah as one of the racers. With a 5.96-second time, the cheetah beats Bolt by more than 3.5 seconds.

That speed ensures cheetahs likely will win any side-by-side race. So the Nat Geo WILD folks came up with a way to give Hester and Johnson an advantage in their races against the big cats. By running the races as back-and-forth line races in which the runners have to change directions quickly, the men have a better chance.

Since the cheetahs are so fast, changing directions so quickly becomes tricky. Johnson's race took place on a 30-yard track with one turn, while Hester's race was on a longer course with more turns.

"Man v. Cheetah" goes into depth about cheetahs and how they are built for maximum speed in the wild. It also shows what advantages and disadvantages they face in the wild, and against the NFL players.

Watch the video above to get a better idea about the races, but you'll have to tune in to see how Hester and Johnson do against their four-legged foes.

Here's what Hester had to say after it was over: "Crazy, man."

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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