Nehemiah, the world-class sprinter turned wideout, set the world record for the 110-meter hurdles repeatedly in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and was the first to post a sub-13 second time. He missed on the 1980 Olympics, though, because of the U.S. boycott. Later, Nehemiah said: “I don’t know if I’ve ever totally gotten over that. It still hurts. Anyone who’s ever heard of me swears I’m a gold medalist. It’s always a painful reminder.” He joined the 49ers in 1982, and wound up with four touchdowns and 43 catches over three seasons with the 49ers. He missed the 1985 season with an injured back, then, a little while before the ’86 preseason started, his agent, Ron Stanko couldn’t come to terms with the 49ers on a new deal. So, Renaldo was released.
Bill Walsh said: “We would like to have him be part of us, but we felt his demands were excessive. His agent asked for incentives that were extremely high.”
Stanko charged that the Niners had negotiated in bad faith. Before the release, he said: “They offered him (Nehemiah) a bonus if he is on the team after the third game. That doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. Why would there be any question that he’d be there on the third game after all the great things Bill (Walsh) has said about him? Does it sound like the guy is going to be there?”
Renaldo went back to track, did very well there in the late ’80s, and then retired from sports to go into finance and then become a marketing director for track and field athletes. In 2001, he said: “A Super Bowl ring isn’t the same. I had a lot of satisfaction in getting to play America’s game with people like (Joe) Montana and those guys. It was kind of a fairy tale. But being on a track against seven other people, representing your country when it’s do or die, there’s nothing that can replace that.”
And, he said this about the aftermath of a vicious 1983 hit by Atlanta Falcons defensive back Kenny Johnson that knocked him unconscious: “It changed the course of my career. I felt that coach [Bill] Walsh was very protective of me after that. It stymied my ability to run wild out there and do what I do best as an athlete.”