A trip back to your childhood, turning on the TV and seeing something that would leave you amazed. You would see this happen in a game and think to yourself “I want to do that”. I took this trip down memory lane after recently watching a documentary. The source of that amazement growing up would be Bo Jackson.
For those growing up during that time, you played two sports because you wanted to be like Bo. I was no different, with mine being baseball and basketball (injuries limited a lot of that). And not only play, but dominate. The practices, the posters and baseball cards, all of this was due to the impact of watching Jackson play. Being a Kansas City Royals fan didn’t hurt either.
Already a two-sport star at Auburn in football and baseball, he was a highlight express before anyone knew what that meant. After going pro with the Royals, he was the 1989 All-Star Game MVP after smashing a 448-foot homer to straight away center in his very first All-Star at-bat. He had numerous other achievements at the plate and in the field, including tying the record for homering in four consecutive at-bats and literally running up a wall to make a catch. You could spend all day discussing his highlight reel.
Jackson went back into football as a hobby with the Los Angeles Raiders. In his first season he had a record-breaking 221-yard rushing performance on Monday Night Football. He spent four seasons in the game before a hip injury sidelined him. He hung up the pads for good soon afterwards.
When he injured his hip playing for the Raiders, it was almost like an end of an era. He eventually made it back to the baseball field, but it wasn’t the same Bo. Trust me, I wasn’t a happy camper when I found out Bo Jackson wouldn’t wear a Royals uniform anymore. However the impact he made both before and working his way back to play again after the injury, wasn’t forgotten.
What made Jackson special was not only what he did on the field, but the way he handled himself off the field. He was quiet, yet confident. He was also grounded, not changing who he was despite all the fame and fortune.
One story sticks out the most. After winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn, Jackson was projected to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft. That pick was owned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who took him on a trip in a private plane which they said was cleared by the NCAA. Turns out it wasn’t, and Jackson found out before the start of a baseball game, forcing him to sit out the rest of the college season. He felt lied to, and you don’t lie to Bo. He told the Bucs don’t worry about drafting him because no matter how much money they would throw his way, he wasn’t going to ever play for them. The Bucs drafted him anyways, but soon afterwards was also drafted by the Royals. He signed with KC.
Instead of trying to hang on to the spotlight, Jackson ran off into the sunset. Humbled yet proud of his accomplishments, he’s now involved in different business ventures, spending time with his family, or picking up a bow and firing off some arrows.
There’s no doubt that Bo Knows Retirement. And even to this day, the legacy of Bo Jackson continues.
Written by C. James