Bo Jackson is a legend. There are a million other ways to describe him, but that does it succinctly. From a college football All-American to an NFL Pro Bowl and an MLB All-Star Game, the running back and outfielder showed the world why he was truly the greatest athlete to ever exist.
Jackson was born in Bessemer, Alabama, and dropped jaws on the field and diamond at McAdory High School. The New York Yankees drafted him in 1982, but he instead chose to attend Auburn University to play football for head coach Pat Dye.
He rushed for more than 4,000 yards over his four-year career. He produced memorable Iron Bowl plays like “Bo Over the Top,” once viciously stiff-armed Deion Sanders and even bull-dozed Brian Bosworth. As a senior in 1985, he took home Auburn’s second Heisman Trophy after rushing for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns. He narrowly beat out Iowa’s Chuck Long.
“Bo Knows” became a national craze. Nike plastered him all over TVs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft, but he chose to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals, who took him in the fourth round of the 1986 Major League Baseball Draft.
He played nine seasons hitting home runs and racking up RBIs in the American League with the Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels, and a handful with the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders before a hip injury ended his football career and baseball career early.
Bo Jackson’s list of achievements at Auburn alone made him an NCAA and SEC hero. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
- Heisman Trophy (1985)
- Walter Camp Award (1985)
- Sporting News Player of the Year (1985)
- UPI Player of the Year (1985)
- Two-Time Consensus All-American (1983, 1985)
- Three-Time First-team All-SEC (1982, 1983, 1985)
- Auburn Tigers No. 34 retired
He’s remembered for so many great plays for Auburn’s football team, but one of his greatest moments came off the gridiron in his 1985 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech.
Bo Jackson’s 1985 Heisman Acceptance Speech
The Heisman Trophy winner took the stage in New York City to accept the prestigious award from the Downtown Athletic Club in 1985. Because he’s Bo Jackson, he absolutely did not disappoint.
Jackson won the closest Heisman race in the award’s history to that point, giving Auburn its second Heisman. Pat Sullivan won it in 1971.
Jackson opened his speech by saying, “I’d like to give recognition to a lot of people tonight, and the first I’d like to give recognition to is lord Jesus Christ.”
The Auburn football player provided laughter and got serious at times. He captivated the room much like he captivated college football fans that season. The speech is long but worth watching. Here are some of the best moments from his soliloquy:
- He says he grew up an Alabama Crimson Tide fan and still is: “Roll Tide!”
- He speaks to the kids: “If you have a dream, follow it.”
- At one point, he draws laughter by saying he doesn’t go to class every day: “I’m being honest.”
- Jackson calls Herschel Walker up to the lectern and talks about their similarities before cracking a joke: “I’m prettier.” You can catch that at the 19:30 mark.
This never gets old. Apparently, Bo knows how to give a damn good speech.