Last post I made reference to the fact that Bo Jackson and I share a birthday, and I referred to him as possibly the greatest athlete of all time. Fame being fleeting, there's probably a generation that doesn't know much, if anything, about Bo, so here's just a little reminder.
Six years younger than me, Bo came out of Alabama and was drafted by the New York Yankees ouit of high school. Instead, he chose to play college football for Auburn, where he won the Heisman Trophy and rushed for over 4,000 yards. After his senior year, at the NFL combine, he was timed at 4.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash, to this day the fastest combine time ever.
He also played baseball at Auburn after his last year of football, batting .401 with 17 home runs. But he was still considered largely a football player, and that was reinforced when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made him the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
He chose, instead, to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals, and by 1989 he was the MVP of the All-Star game, launching a 440-foot home run in his first All-Star at-bat.
After the 1987 season, the Oakland Raiders convinced him to play football after the baseball season was over. The NFL became Bo's "hobby" (his word), and he scored 18 touchdowns over his four NFL seasons while becoming a Pro Bowler.
But the stats don't tell the story. The story became the stories about what Bo could do. His mammoth home runs. His cannon of a throwing arm. The way he ran over linebackers. The way he could break a bat over his knee, or over his helmet. Once, while batting, he turned to ask the umpire for time, but time was not granted because the pitcher was already into his delivery. Unfazed, Bo turned back toward the mound, saw the ball was on its way and hit it over the left-field wall for a homer.
My personal favorite moment came in 1990 in Baltimore, when Bo was tracking down a fly ball and finally caught it just a few feet from the wall. Instead of running into the wall as a mere mortal would, Bo just ran UP the wall, got his balance and came back down. (You'll see it about 1:05 into this video below.)
A hip injury suffered in an NFL game finally brought him down but as this video will show you, there was almost nothing Bo couldn't do. There's no doubt in my mind he was the best athlete of the 20th century, and I don't know if the 21st century will produce a better one. Enjoy the video.