There are running backs with more yards and baseball players with more home runs, but there’s only one Bo Jackson. The 1985 Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn Unversity enjoyed an incredibly rare two-sport career in both professional football and baseball. Jackson is still the only person to be named to the NFL Pro Bowl and the MLB All-Star team.
But before his sports legacy and famous “Bo Knows” Nike campaign ever took place, Vincent Edward Jackson was just a kid from Bessemer, Alabama. And if there’s one thing that Bo knows more than being a superstar athlete, it’s bowhunting.
Growing up, Jackson would hunt and fish “pretty much out of necessity.” The Iowa Chronicle Times’ Steve Bruder explained what it was like to hunt with Jackson:
“His knowledge of archery tackle is second to none and he has taught himself to be his own bow technician and can tell you every intricate detail about anything you want to know about his bow tackle or yours.”
Don’t think Jackson suddenly took up hunting as a hobby, either. Bo knows that practice makes perfect, as he would shoot inside the Kansas City Royals’ clubhouse BEFORE playing a Major League Baseball game. On ESPN2’s Highly Questionable, Jackson said the pregame ritual “was a way to relax.”
When a person who dominates with pure talent is about to walk onto a baseball field, he’s obviously thinking about something far more exciting.
GoHunt.com explained how Jackson’s teammates even managed to make a (tremendously dangerous and life-threatening) game out of it, too. He shot apples right out of their freakin’ hands.
“Jackson admitted some of his teammates used to let him shoot apples out of their hands. When questioned on his seemingly dangerous archery practice, Jackson said with a straight face: ‘listen, it’s not dangerous for me.'”Advertisement
The legends of this man are endless. It’s like he stepped right out of a Superman comic book to share his powers with the world. Actually, never mind. He has his own comic book, too.
With all the stories, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction sometimes.
— In high school, Bo Jackson was so dominant in the decathlon, a 10-part track & field event, that he didn’t even bother to run the mile because he was usually so far ahead.
— It’s said that Bo Jackson ran a 4.12 40-yard dash at the 1986 NFL Combine. That puts him in the category of fastest human to ever live.
— Bo Jackson broke wooden baseball bats over his knee. That’s not even a myth. He actually did that.
Jackson was selected by the New York Yankees right out of his school, but chose to attend Auburn University as a promise to his mother; He was the first in his family to attend a major college. After excelling as a college football player, Jackson was selected first overall in the 1986 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, but he refused to play with them. (An unnecessary meeting broke an NCAA rule. Jackson was ruled ineligible for his senior baseball season.)
Jackson chose professional baseball, joining the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals’ minor league system. He went on to play eight MLB seasons with the Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels. He was named an All-Star in 1989.
In 1987, Jackson returned to the gridiron when the Los Angeles Raiders football team drafted him in the seventh round. He still owns the NFL record for rushing yards (221) on Monday Night Football. Even though a hip injury ended his football career after only four season, Jackson’s 5.4 yards per carry ranks as fourth-most in NFL history.
The College Football Hall of Fame player is a legend all his own. From running over Seattle Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth to running up an outfield wall to make a catch, Jackson is unlike any athlete we’ll likely ever see again.
What’s best is that he came from humble beginnings. He’s just a kid from Alabama who loves the outdoors and practices his craft the right way.
This article was originally published April 19, 2019.