Who Is the Greatest Athlete of Our Time?

Kristin HamlinSenior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2008


I’ll give you a hint. He lettered in three sports in college: football, baseball, and track.


Any guesses?


He won the Heisman Trophy, only to go on to sign with a professional baseball team, becoming a .250 hitter with 141 home runs and 415 RBI in 2,393 at-bats. Did I mention he made the NFL Pro Bowl during that time?  


Are you getting warmer?  


He was the only athlete to go to the Baseball All-Star game and the NFL Pro Bowl within one year of each other. This man claimed football was his hobby, yet he went on to break record after record on the football field.


Needless to say, he was a virtually indescribable athlete. He was, in my opinion, tougher, faster, and more talented than anyone to step onto a baseball diamond or into the trenches of the NFL.


Bo Jackson.


His name alone sends chills down my spine. I remember, as a kid, watching him play for the Raiders. I was raised to be a “Raider Hater,” but I couldn’t help but secretly root for Bo. The guy was like Superman to sports fans.


Who could forget the commericals with 'Bo knowing' everything.  Some claimed he was acting narcissisic; it was a commercial ladies and gentleman, not a reality show.  you need to know the difference.



He's one of the athletes you can just watch highlights of over and over again, each time you watch, he just gets more fascinating.


I vividly remember watching a Raiders game, late in the '87 season, on Monday night against the Seahawks.


I recall Jackson setting a Raider record by rushing for 221 yards and scoring three touchdowns. Who could forget the 91-yard touchdown he had, untouched down the sidelines. He was running so fast that not even the end zone could stop him, as he continued on through the tunnel that led to the dressing room.


And the play he made against Brian Bosworth where Bo literally ran over the 250-pound Linebacker, leaving Brian thinking he was a 4 year old girl. After the game, Bo so eloquently put it: “I met Bosworth head-on. We were on Seattle’s two-yard line, and I got to the ball and cut to the right, and Bosworth was waiting at the one, planting himself. I wasn’t going to get fancy. I went right at him. I went right through him. Just drove him back into the end zone”.


Those of you who were lucky enough to watch that game know the play I am talking about. 


He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.2 seconds. Did I mention he was 6’1" and 230 pounds?


His first major-league home run flew over 475 feet, being the longest home run ever hit at Royals Stadium.  


The guy was remarkable. The things he was able to do left us all in awe. George Brett was quoted as saying, “When Bo was at the top of his game, it’s a sight to see. It’s beyond your wildest dreams. It’s beyond my wildest dreams.”


Some say he could walk on water. I don’t know about that, however he could run up an outfield wall while making a catch, throwing it over 300 feet to home plate, getting the last out his team needed, which if you ask me, is almost just as impressive. 


I wanted, just for a moment, to reminisce on the greatest athlete in my lifetime.


It’s hard not to think about what might have been, had Bo not gotten injured in ’91. I believe the games of both football and baseball would have been changed and records broken beyond our wildest dreams.


He would have been one of the few who stood out, that didn’t have to take steroids to break records and cheat the fans. He had the kind of talent many athletes envy, which was natural talent.


To this day, I haven’t seen anyone display the kind of talent Bo Jackson had. There have definitely been some amazing athletes to come and go, but I think that Linden King, a linebacker for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987, said it best. “I’ve never seen anyone so fast and so strong. When God was handing out talent, Bo got it all”.  


“Bo knows Baseball,” “Bo knows Football,” “Bo Knows.” I’ll tell you one thing, Bo claimed he knew. Bo was right.