If you're a young sports fan who would compile a list great athletes without including Bo Jackson, I highly suggest that you check out ESPN's latest entry into its "30 for 30" series, You Don't Know Bo.
Jackson is remembered in mythical terms, the same way that people describe Micky Mantle or Muhammad Ali. He was an astonishing athlete whose combination of size, speed and agility remains a marvel to be witnessed.
Here's a preview of the documentary.
If you never saw Jackson in action and you fancy yourself a student of sports, you can't miss this film. Jackson was an excellent football and baseball player in his day, yes, but he was a cultural phenomenon as well.
You don't know about that? Oh, that's a shame, because Bo knows.
Here's the stuff that Bo Jackson's legend is made of.
He was never caught from behind once he broke free on the football field. Well, almost never.
He famously ran through a Brian Bosworth tackle in his rookie season after Boz had mouthed off about shutting him down. Boz was another promising rookie, but he most certainly didn't shut Jackson down.
He smashed a home run in the All-Star game while Ronald Reagan—yes, Ronald Reagan—was in the booth announcing the play.
He won the Heisman. He rushed for 2,782 yards and scored 18 total touchdowns between 1987 and 1990 for the Los Angeles Raiders. He spent eight seasons in the majors. If you could mash Adrian Peterson and Torii Hunter together, you'd get Bo Jackson.
His numbers in each sport were certainly lessened by playing both. Avascular necrosis and hip replacement surgery cut his athletic career short of what it should have been. The legendary athlete never quite became the Hall of Famer that his talent suggested he was capable of becoming.
In that sense, there is a tinge of tragedy to Jackson as well. For all that he could have become, he'll be remembered more as a mythical athlete rather than as one of the finest football or baseball players of all time.
But if you don't know, you better watch. No discussion about the greatest athletes of all time is worthwhile if he isn't in the top five. Had he not been more in love with baseball—and not gotten injured—I believe that he would have gone down as the greatest running back in history.
All told, the story of his life and athletic career is a fascinating one. You can catch You Don't Know Bo on Saturday, December 8 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Hit me up on Twitter—Bo knows my tweets. Well, not really, but he should.
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