CHARLOTTE – Panthers cornerback Ross Cockrell isn't big on social media. His last public post was on Facebook nearly two years ago. But as he watched the NCAA track and field championship Saturday night, he had a hunch what he saw would go viral.
“That's kind of the age that we're living in now,” Cockrell said. “When something special or amazing happens, everybody seems to gravitate to it. And that was certainly a special race.”
That 4x400-meter race, which included Cockrell's sister Anna, has now been viewed nearly two million times in less than 96 hours. So if you haven’t seen it yet, start at the 3:22 mark and be prepared to be amazed:
Three minutes before USC’s anchor Kendall Ellis came out of nowhere to run down Purdue, Anna Cockrell began her second leg in fourth place. She made up some time during her lap, but things looked bleak for the Trojans, who needed to win the race to claim their first national title in 17 years.
“I was hopeful that something would happen,” Ross Cockrell said. “But obviously in track it doesn't really happen that often when a team has that significant of a lead.”
Then it did happen.
“I was jumping around screaming,” Cockrell continued. “My wife and I - we were just really excited.
“I'm very excited, very proud of my sister and her team and what they accomplished.”
And for the past few days, at least, no sports story in Los Angeles has received as much attention as USC's miraculous finish. The four members of the relay team have made all sorts of media appearances, and they're scheduled to throw out the first pitch ahead of Wednesday night's Dodgers game.
“It's been a very special experience for her,” Cockrell said, “and I hope she continues to ride this wave.”
According to Cockrell, he never raced Anna -- who is six years younger -- when they were growing up in Charlotte. So if NFL veteran tried to take on his little sister-turned All-American runner now, what would happen?
“Oh, you know,” Ross Cockrell said with a wry smile, “I don't want to put her down. She's riding a cloud right now.”