Even casual sports fans know that Bo Jackson was a special athlete. His 4.12-second 40-yard dash remains the fastest verifiable time ever at the NFL combine, and his ability to star in two sports is now unheard of.
Still, few people know the man behind the athletic accomplishments. ESPN shed light on just that Saturday in its latest 30 for 30 special, subtitled "You Don't Know Bo," which chronicled Jackson's life.
The special gave two accounts of Jackson's life: the athlete and the man.
Bo Jackson the athlete is a mythological figure of Paul Bunyan-esque stature. The special recounts Jackson dunking a stick through a basketball hoop when he was just in eighth grade, among other remarkable achievements.
These feats are easy to believe when considering the caliber of athlete Jackson was. For any other athlete, though, these would have been unthinkable, showing just how special Jackson was.
The story behind the athlete is even more inspiring—and perhaps even more unbelievable considering how seemingly few athletes make the right life decisions these days.
Jackson began life as an impoverished child in Bessemer, Alabama. He rose to be one of the most coveted recruits in college football history, and he made the easy decision to go to Auburn. Needless to say, it was a good fit for the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner.
At Auburn, Jackson cemented his status as a two-sport star, something the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempted to put a stop to. They reportedly set up Jackson to make him ineligible for his final baseball season, prompting Jackson to refuse to play for the franchise upon being drafted first overall.
This was another of Jackson's many smart moves, as he then was drafted by the Oakland Raiders the next year, and the rest is history.
The world of sports, and especially football, may never have been darker than it is right now. Athletes make poor decisions on a seemingly daily basis, many with life-changing consequences.
Bo Jackson is proof that there are athletes who are different, and his 30 for 30 special helps cement his status as that different athlete. It's a great story and must-watch television.