Jackson signing a football in February 2004
|Date of birth:||November 30, 1962|
|Place of birth:||Bessemer, Alabama, U.S.|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school:||McCalla (AL) McAdory|
|NFL Draft:||1986 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Outfielder / Designated hitter|
|September 2, 1986, for the Kansas City Royals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 10, 1994, for the California Angels|
|Runs batted in||415|
|Career highlights and awards|
Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson (born November 30, 1962) is a former baseball and American football player. He is one of the few athletes to be named an All-Star in two major sports, and the only one to do so in both baseball and football. He is widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.
In 1989 and 1990, Jackson's name became known beyond just sports fans through the "Bo Knows" advertising campaign, a series of advertisements by Nike, starring Jackson alongside Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Bo Diddley, promoting a cross-training athletic shoe named for Jackson.
After a 1991 hip injury on the field ended his football career, Jackson focused on baseball, and expanded into other pursuits, including the completion of his Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Child Development at Auburn. In addition, Jackson appeared in small roles as an actor, in TV shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Married... with Children, and films such as The Chamber.
- 1 Early life
- 2 College (1982–1986)
- 3 Professional sports career
- 4 Hip injury
- 5 Popularity
- 6 Apparel
- 7 Pre-game traditions
- 8 Life after sports
- 9 Personal life
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
Jackson, the eighth of ten children, was born and raised in Bessemer, Alabama, and was named after Vince Edwards, his mother's favorite actor. His family described him as a "wild boar hog", as he would constantly get into trouble. He attended school in McCalla, where he rushed for 1175 yards as a running back as a high school senior. Jackson hit twenty home runs in 25 games for McAdory's baseball team during his senior season. He was a two-time state champion in the decathlon. Both times that he was the decathlon state champion, he built up such a commanding points lead before the 1500 meters that he never competed in that event. "Distance is the only thing I hate about track", he said. In 1982, Jackson set state school records for indoor high-jump (6'9") and triple-jump (48'8").
In June 1982, Jackson was selected by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1982 Major League Baseball draft, but he instead chose to attend Auburn University on a football scholarship because he promised his mother he would be the first in the family to go to a major college. He was recruited by head coach Pat Dye and then Auburn assistant coach Bobby Wallace. At Auburn, he proved to be a tremendous athlete in both baseball and football. He shared the backfield with quarterback Randy Campbell, Lionel "Little Train" James and Tommie Agee.
Jackson missed much of his senior season being replaced by George Renick after being ruled ineligible by the NCAA following a visit with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom he believes tried to sabotage his baseball career.
In his report, the scout stated that his only weakness was a lack of baseball experience. The scout said that he could be one of the all-time greats barring any injuries. He had a minor shoulder injury in the beginning of his collegiate football career, which didn't cause him issues in the long term. The scout also noted that this was his first year playing baseball and he seemed to be a "do it all type of player" and also stated he was "the best pure athlete in America today". This was in April 1985 when Bo was a 22-year-old walk-on at the Auburn University trying to make an even bigger name for himself than he already had in his football career. In this scouting report Jackson's worth to an MLB team was listed at only $200,000, much less than what he would end up taking home later on in his short-lived careers.
During his time playing for the Auburn Tigers football team, he ran for 4,303 career yards, which was the fourth best performance in SEC history. Jackson finished his career with an average of 6.6 yards (6.0 m) per carry, which set the SEC record (minimum 400 rushes).
In 1982, Jackson's freshman year, Auburn played Boston College in the Tangerine Bowl, where Jackson made a one-handed grab on an option pitch. Auburn went on to win the game 33–26 as Jackson rushed 14 times for 64 yards and 2 TDs.
In 1983, as a sophomore, Jackson rushed for 1,213 yards (1,109 m) on 158 carries, for an average of 7 yards per carry, which was the 2nd best single-season average in SEC history (minimum 100 rushes). In the 1983 Auburn-Alabama game, Jackson rushed for 256 yards on 20 rushes (12.8 yards per carry), which at the time was the sixth-most rushing yards gained in a game in SEC history and the 2nd best yard-per-rush average in a game (minimum 20 attempts) in SEC history. Auburn finished the season by winning the Sugar Bowl, where Jackson was named Most Valuable Player. In 1984, Jackson's junior year (most of which Jackson missed due to injury), he earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Liberty Bowl.
In 1985, Jackson rushed for 1,786 yards which was the second best single-season performance in SEC history. That year, he averaged 6.4 yards per rush, which at the time was the best single-season average in SEC history. For his performance in 1985, Jackson was awarded the Heisman Trophy in what was considered the closest margin of victory ever in the history of the award, winning over University of Iowa quarterback Chuck Long.
Jackson finished his career at Auburn with 4,675 all-purpose yards and 45 total touchdowns, 43 rushing and 2 receiving, with a 6.6 yards per carry average. Jackson's football number 34 was officially retired at Auburn in a halftime ceremony on October 31, 1992. His is one of only three numbers retired at Auburn. The others are 1971 Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan's number 7, and the number 88 of Sullivan's teammate and favorite receiver, Terry Beasley. In 2007, Jackson was ranked #8 on ESPN's Top 25 Players In College Football History list.
"Bo Over the Top"
On November 27, 1982, Jackson and the Auburn Tigers found themselves embattled with their heated in-state rival, Alabama (7–3), in the Iron Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. Auburn held a 14–13 halftime lead when Alabama running back Paul Ott Carruth scored on an 8-yard touchdown run—and then the Crimson Tide added a field goal to make it a 22–14 Alabama lead going into the 4th quarter. Auburn responded as Al Del Greco made a 23-yard field goal to make it a 22–17 score in the 4th quarter. From Auburn's own 34-yard line, Bo Jackson and company began a long drive as he converted on a 4th-and-1 at the Alabama 42. Jackson, who ran 17 times for 114 yards during this Iron Bowl, continued marching his team downfield as he caught an 8-yard pass from quarterback Randy Campbell down to the Alabama 1-yard line. During the huddle Bo convinced Coach Dye to let him go over the top of offensive and defensive lines because he was a 7 foot high jumper in high school and the other team wouldn't be expecting it. On fourth down with 2:26 left in the game, Jackson completed the drive by going over the top for a one-yard touchdown run as Auburn (finished 9–3 in 1982) pulled off a 23–22 victory over Alabama and coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
College track and field
While at McAdory High School, Jackson competed as a sprinter, hurdler, jumper, thrower and decathlete. His best 100-meter time in high school was 10.44 seconds, but he would later run a 10.39 at Auburn. He also ran the 100-yard dash in 9.54 seconds. As a hurdler, he recorded times of 7.29 seconds in the 55m hurdles and 13.81 seconds in the 110m hurdles. In decathlon, he reached 8340 points. In the jumping events, he had personal-best jumps of 2.06 meters in the high jump, 7.52 meters in the long jump and 14.85 meters in the triple jump. As a thrower, he got top-throws of 15.27 meters in the shot put and 45.44 meters in the discus throw.
Jackson qualified for the NCAA nationals in the 100-meter dash in his freshman and sophomore years. He considered a career in track and field, but sprinting would not gain him the financial security of the MLB or NFL, nor would he have sufficient time to train, given his other commitments. Going into the 1986 NFL Draft, Jackson ran a 4.12 40-yard dash time[disputed ]. This dash was officially hand-timed because the NFL Combine didn't start electronically timing athletes until 1990.
|50 meters||5.49||Rosemont, Illinois||January 29, 1984|
Professional sports career
Kansas City Royals
Jackson was selected with the first overall pick of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he refused to play for them because a visit to team facilities they said was NCAA-approved was actually not, causing him to miss the remainder of his final college baseball season. Jackson believes that the failure to obtain NCAA approval was deliberate and was intended by the Buccaneers to get him to play football instead of baseball. He vowed not to sign with Tampa Bay should they draft him, but they proceeded anyway. He kept his vow and opted to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals, the defending World Series champions, who had drafted him in the fourth round in the 1986 amateur draft. He spent 53 games with the Memphis Chicks, the Royals' Class AA minor league affiliate, and was called up to the majors in September 1986. He made the Royals' roster in 1987 and hit 22 home runs, with 53 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as a left fielder.
Jackson began to show his true potential in 1989, when he was voted to start for the American League All-Star team, and was named the game's MVP for his play on both offense and defense. In the top of the first inning, he caught Pedro Guerrero's 2-out line drive to left-center field to save two runs. Then he led off the bottom of the first—his first All-Star plate appearance—with a monstrous 448-foot (137 m) home run off Rick Reuschel of the San Francisco Giants. NBC-TV announcer Vin Scully exclaimed, "Look at that one! Bo Jackson says hello!" Wade Boggs followed with his own home run, making them the first pair in All-Star history to lead off their sides first with back-to-back home runs. In the 2nd inning, he beat out the throw on a potential double play to drive in the eventual winning run. He then stole second base, making him the second player in All-Star Game history to hit a home run and steal a base in the same game (the first was Willie Mays). Jackson finished the game with two hits in four at-bats, one run scored, and two RBI.
On June 5, 1989, Jackson barehanded a line-drive off the left field wall on a hit-and-run play against the Seattle Mariners. With speedy Harold Reynolds running from first base on the play, Scott Bradley's hit would have been deep enough to score him against most outfielders. But Jackson, from the warning track, turned flat footed and fired a strike on the fly to catcher Bob Boone, who tagged out the sliding Reynolds. Jackson's throw reached Boone on the fly. Interviewed for the "Bo Jackson" episode of ESPN Classic's SportsCentury, Reynolds admitted that he thought there was no way anyone would throw him out on such a deep drive into the gap in left-center, and was shocked to see his teammate telling him to slide as he rounded third base.
On July 29, 1988, against the Baltimore Orioles, Jackson, batting against Jeff Ballard, turned to the home plate umpire and attempted to call time out as Ballard was delivering the ball. The time-out wasn't granted, but Jackson recovered to swing and hit the pitch over the left-field wall for a home run despite only really seeing the ball as it was on its way to the plate.
Jackson's 171 strikeouts in 1989 tied him for 10th most strikeouts in a season for a right-handed batter since 1893. On July 11, 1990, against the Orioles, Jackson performed his famous "wall run", when he caught a ball approximately 2–3 strides away from the wall. As he caught the ball at full tilt, Jackson looked up and noticed the wall and began to run up the wall, one leg reaching higher as he ascended. He ran along the wall almost parallel to the ground, and came down with the catch, to avoid impact and the risk of injury from the fence.
During the 1990 season, Jackson hit HRs in 4 consecutive at-bats tying a Major League record (held by several). His fourth came off of Randy Johnson after hitting his first three before a stint on the DL. Unwilling to pay his $2.375 million salary in 1991 to rehabilitate his football injury, the Royals released Jackson on March 18, 1991.
Chicago White Sox and California Angels
He played two seasons with the Chicago White Sox, appearing in 23 games in 1991 and 85 games in 1993. It was with the White Sox that he made his only post-season appearance, in the 1993 American League Championship Series, which Chicago lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games.
While with the Sox, Jackson promised his mother that once he returned from his hip replacement surgery he would hit a home run for her. Before he could return, his mother died. In his first at-bat after surgery, he hit a home run to right field. Jackson had the ball encased in acrylic and bolted to the dresser in her room, according to an interview on ESPN.
Jackson finished his career in 1994 with the California Angels. That season was cut short by the 1994–95 baseball strike and Jackson decided to retire at age 32. "I got to know my family" he said, "That looks better to me than any $10 million contract."
In his eight baseball seasons, Jackson had a career batting average of .250, hit 141 home runs and had 415 RBIs, with a slugging average of .474. His best year was 1989, with his effort earning him All-Star status. In 1989, Jackson ranked fourth in the American League in both home runs, with 32, and RBI, with 105.
- AL All-Star (1989)
- 1989 All-Star Game MVP
- 1993 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1987–1990)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1989)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1989)
Jackson was drafted first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Controversy abounded before then that resulted in Jackson never playing for the team.
In addition to giving Jackson an ultimatum to pick between sports, Buccaneers management took Jackson on owner Hugh Culverhouse's private jet to visit with the team during his senior baseball season. Jackson was told by the Buccaneers that the trip, which could have cost Jackson his remaining collegiate eligibility, had been cleared by the NCAA. Jackson was later told by his baseball coach at Auburn that the trip was considered to be a violation of NCAA rules and that he was immediately ruled ineligible to play the remainder of the baseball season. Jackson, upset that Culverhouse lied to him, insisted that he would never play for the Buccaneers and that they could draft him if he wanted to, but he would not sign if he was drafted. It was said that Jackson, who was having what he called his best year playing baseball in school, made the Buccaneers nervous and that by getting him somehow ruled ineligible to play baseball, he would be forced to focus on football.
Jackson held true to his threat not to sign, and the Buccaneers forfeited his rights before the 1987 draft. Jackson was in spring training with the Royals when someone informed him that he had a chance to play football again. Inquiring who it was, Jackson found out that he was taken in the seventh round of the draft with the 183rd pick by the Los Angeles Raiders. Initially Jackson had said he would continue to focus on baseball and would not sign, but his interest was piqued. Raiders owner Al Davis was a fan of Jackson and was receptive the idea of Jackson playing both baseball and football. Thus, a contract was negotiated where Jackson would be permitted to play the entire baseball season with the Royals and would report to the Raiders once the season was finished. In addition to this, Davis gave Jackson a salary that was in line with what a top-flight starter at halfback would make.
Jackson joined the Raiders in time for their Week 8 match-up against the New England Patriots, where he rushed for a total of 37 yards on eight carries. Jackson shared the backfield with Marcus Allen, himself an All-Pro and former Heisman Trophy winner, but eventually supplanted him as the featured running back despite being listed as the team's fullback. Perhaps his most notable performance in his rookie season came on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 12. Prior to the game Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth insulted Jackson and promised in a media event before the game to contain Jackson. Jackson responded by running over Bosworth on his way to a touchdown near the goal line. He also made a 91-yard run in the 2nd quarter, to the outside, untouched down the sideline. Jackson was running so fast that his momentum carried him into the tunnel leading to the locker rooms and his teammates had to retrieve him. Jackson rushed for 221 yards that night and two touchdowns. He added a third with a reception. The 221 yards was a single-game record for the Raiders until it was broken in 1997, when Napoleon Kaufman rushed for 227 yards in a win over Denver.
In his rookie season, Jackson rushed for a total of 554 yards on only 81 carries for a 6.8 yards per carry average. He played in seven games, starting five, and scored a total of six touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving). The next year, Jackson played in ten of the Raiders' sixteen games with nine starts, recording a total of 580 yards and three touchdowns.
Jackson's 1989 season was his best in the league. In eleven games, with nine starts, Jackson rushed for a total of 950 yards with a 5.5 yards per carry average and four touchdowns. In his abbreviated 1990 campaign, Jackson rushed for 698 yards and was selected to the only Pro Bowl of his career.
In his four seasons in the NFL, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with an average yards per carry of 5.4. He also caught 40 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson's 221 yards on November 30, 1987, just 29 days after his first NFL carry, is still a Monday Night Football record.
As noted above, Jackson's sports career was affected by an injury to his left hip.
In his last game, the aforementioned playoff victory over Cincinnati in January 1991, Jackson suffered a dislocated hip following a tackle. In the film You Don't Know Bo, Jackson claimed that after he discovered the injury, he physically popped his hip back into the socket and in the process damaged the blood vessels supplying blood to the area. While doctors did not find proof that Jackson physically reset his hip, they did discover that there was a fracture of one of Jackson's hip bones.
Within a month of the injury, Jackson had been diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip joint. He also was found to have lost all of the cartilage supporting his hip. He would be forced to retire from football, and was then cut by the Royals in spring training. Jackson would return to competition with the White Sox toward the end of the 1991 baseball season
Jackson became a popular figure for his athleticism in multiple sports through the late 1980s and early 1990s. He endorsed Nike and was involved in a popular ad campaign called "Bo Knows" which envisioned Jackson attempting to take up a litany of other sports, including tennis, golf, luge, auto racing, and even playing blues music with Bo Diddley, who scolded Jackson by telling him, "You don't know Diddley!" This "Bo Knows" marketing campaign was for the release of the Nike Air Trainer I, a cross-training shoe, the first of its kind.
Called "the greatest athlete in video game history", Jackson's digital counterpart was nicknamed by fans as "Tecmo Bo" since being featured in the 1989 video game Tecmo Bowl for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Referencing his video game character, Jackson was featured in a 2016 advertisement for the Kia Sorento, with Jackson driving the car into a virtual stadium (a second ad features Brian Bosworth with Jackson referencing the infamous Monday Night Football touchdown run).
He had his own video game for the original Game Boy portable gaming system, Bo Jackson's Hit and Run. The game featured both baseball and football. Released around the same time was Bo Jackson Baseball for the NES system and IBM compatible computers. Jackson can be unlocked as a player in ESPN NFL Football. Jackson made an appearance in the 2004 video game NFL Street 2. Jackson also made his first appearance in the modern Madden series, Madden 15 and Madden 16.
Jackson was a character in ProStars, an NBC Saturday morning cartoon show which also featured Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan fighting crime and helping children, although neither he, Gretzky, nor Jordan voiced their respective characters. He did however play the character Calvin Farquhar a sports radio jockey on the TV show Married...with Children.
He also appeared in an episode of the TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in which he plays a basketball game with Clark Kent/Superman.
In 2007, Nike released a set of Nike Dunk shoes honoring Bo Jackson. The set featured three color-ways based on previously released Nike shoes: the "Bo Knows" Trainer I, Trainer 91 and Medicine Ball Trainer III.
Bo Jackson's number 34 jerseys are still sold by the Oakland Raiders.
Before Royals games, Jackson used to shoot at a target with a bow and arrow in the Royals clubhouse.
Life after sports
Through the 1990s, Jackson dabbled in acting, having made several television guest appearances first on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990 as well as Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Married... with Children. He later appeared in small roles in the films The Chamber, The Pandora Project and Fakin' Da Funk.
Jackson is married to Linda, a clinical psychologist, and has three children – sons Garrett and Nicholas, and a daughter, Morgan. Jackson and his family live in Burr Ridge, Illinois. He is among a group of investors who own The Burr Ridge Bank and Trust in the Chicago suburbs. He is one of the bank's advisory directors and is said to be "rolling up his sleeves" and working along with everyone else to make sure that the small bank becomes a success during tough financial times. According to Jackson: "we have no type of debt, like all the other banks. We're a small community bank and one thing we all decided, is that if we are going to do a bank in our community, it needs to be owned by the people who live in the community."
The Chicago White Sox chose Jackson to throw the ceremonial first pitch before Game Two of the 2005 World Series. The White Sox went on to win that game on a 9th inning walk-off home run, then swept Houston Astros for their first championship in 88 years.
In 2006, Jackson appeared on the Spike TV sports reality show, Pros vs. Joes. In his second appearance, he easily defeated amateur athletes in a home run-hitting contest. When he bunted instead of swinging on his final try for a home run, the announcer stated: "Bo knows taunting."
In 2007, Jackson came together with John Cangelosi to form the Bo Jackson Elite Sports Complex, an 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) multi-sports dome facility in Lockport, Illinois. He is part-owner and CEO of the facility. He has been successful with other investments, including a food company, N'Genuity. He often says that while he may have been great for sports, sports were no doubt greater for him considering the post-career opportunities that have been afforded to him.
On July 12, 2010 Jackson threw the ceremonial first pitch before the 2010 Home Run Derby at Angel Stadium and participated in the celebrity softball game. After 20 years since his famous "Bo Knows" campaign, Jackson returned to do commercials for Nike in the fall of 2010 for their "BOOM" campaign. In this commercial, he playfully taunted New York Yankees star Robinson Canó during batting practice before being impressed by a hit, responding to it by saying "Boom!"
In December 2010, he was named a 2011 winner of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, given annually to six former NCAA student-athletes for distinguished career accomplishment on the 25th anniversary of their college graduation.
In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Jackson admitted he never would have played football if he had known the health risks associated with it. "I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody," he said. “The game has gotten so violent, so rough. We’re so much more educated on this CTE stuff (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), there’s no way I would ever allow my kids to play football today."
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- List of multi-sport athletes
- List of athletes who played in Major League Baseball and the National Football League
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bo Jackson.|
- Bo Jackson at the College Football Hall of Fame
- Bo Jackson at the Heisman Trophy official website
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Career statistics and player information from Pro-Football-Reference