In researching bo Jackson's professional career, it was striking to me that it was in hindsight so short due to injuries but it also perfectly coincided with the peak years of my childhood and why my memory of Bo Jackson seems outsized compared to his standing in history.
Bo Jackson is one of the most unique athletes in sports history, having excelled in two different professional sports: football and baseball. Here is a breakdown of his careers and accomplishments in each sport:
- Jackson played football at Auburn University, where he was a two-time consensus All-American.
- He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft but refused to play for the team because of a dispute over his amateur status.
- The following year, Jackson was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the seventh round of the 1987 NFL Draft.
- He played for the Raiders for four seasons (1987-1990) and was one of the most electrifying players in the NFL during that time.
- In his rookie season, Jackson rushed for 554 yards and scored four touchdowns, earning him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
- Jackson's most memorable moment in the NFL came in a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks in 1988, when he broke off a 91-yard touchdown run in which he famously ran over Brian Bosworth.
- Unfortunately, Jackson's NFL career was cut short by a hip injury suffered in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991. He attempted a comeback with the Raiders in 1993 but was forced to retire after aggravating the injury.
- Jackson played baseball at Auburn University as well and was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the 1986 MLB Draft.
- He made his MLB debut with the Royals in 1986 and played for the team through the 1990 season.
- Jackson was a rare combination of speed and power, hitting 107 home runs and stealing 82 bases in his MLB career.
- His most memorable moment in baseball came in the 1989 All-Star Game, when he hit a leadoff home run that cleared the center field wall at Anaheim Stadium.
- After leaving the Royals, Jackson played for the Chicago White Sox and Anaheim Angels, retiring from baseball after the 1994 season.
- Jackson was named to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and was named the game's MVP after rushing for 92 yards and two touchdowns.
- He was named the Athlete of the Year by both Sports Illustrated and ESPN in 1985.
- Jackson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
- In 2009, Jackson was ranked #8 on ESPN's list of the 25 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century.
It's worth noting that Jackson's career in both sports was cut short by injuries, and many believe that he could have been one of the greatest athletes of all time if not for those injuries. Nonetheless, his accomplishments in both football and baseball are still impressive, and he remains a beloved figure in sports history.
Bo Jackson was also a pop culture phenomenon and often marketed in commercials of all sorts.