Writer’s Block: Remembering Bo Jackson

More than 20 years ago sports fans were introduced to the uber athlete known as Bo Jackson.

Jason Olson
Jason Olson

Four days after Adrian Peterson continued to solidify his place among the football gods, ESPN’s “30-for-30” documentary about Bo Jackson reminded me that Jackson appeared to be an even better athlete than Peterson, which is tough to imagine given how furiously Peterson has come back from his ACL injury last January.

Jackson excelled at anything he tried: football, baseball, basketball, track, tennis, surfing, skiing, cycling, but as one of the famous “Bo Knows” commercials goes, he wasn’t the greatest hockey player – according to Wayne Gretzky.

The documentary-style show focused on how Jackson reached beyond the limits in half of the major professional sports in America to reach near-god status as an All-Star in Major League Baseball with the Kansas City Royals, Pro Bowl running back for the Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL and Heisman Trophy winner while tearing up collegiate defenses at Auburn.

I grew up in the days of the “Bo Knows” craze, which for those who don’t remember the fantastic ads can watch a couple on You Tube.

These commercials summed up the hype around what has to be the greatest American athlete of all time – move over Bruce Jenner, LeBron James or even Peterson.

“Bo Knows” was an advertising campaign by Nike which showed Jackson playing every sport imaginable.

The feats of Jackson were simply spectacular and national sports commentators took their turns trying to convey what they saw with their own two eyes during the 60-minute show.

Jackson was the fastest runner, hardest throwing fielder and strongest hitter. Basically he was the second coming of Babe Ruth, only better.

He once beat out a routine ground ball to the second baseman that took only two seconds to reach the fielder. Jackson once threw out speedster Harold Reynolds as he attempted to score from first base on a hit off the wall in left field.

Jackson, in one motion caught the ball off the wall, turned and fired the perfectly-placed ball to catch Reynolds by a couple of steps.

Next up was his first career home run at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, which team officials said was the longest ball to leave the ballpark, ever. It was estimated at traveling just under 500 feet.

His football feats were equally special like the time he ran through the end zone and into the tunnel after scoring a touchdown out of fear of pulling a hamstring if he stopped too quickly.

He had one of the fastest 40-yard dash times recorded at 4.16 seconds. Prospects running a 4.4 or 4.3 are regarded as speedsters, so not only was Jackson the strongest runner, he was the quickest.

This was the most apparent in the first-ever Techmo Bowl video game as Jackson was the fastest player on the field and if you called the right play, he would score every time.

When asked about making a decision between pro baseball or pro football, Jackson replied that his off-season hobby was football.

After baseball season, he picked up his football pads and headed west for his hobby – running through, around and under the best football players who wanted nothing more than to spoil his day.

For Jackson, banging pads was a thrill in the way pick-up basketball might be for a former high school standout. He just happened to get paid a ton of money and played in front of a ton of people.

Peterson seems to treat the sport the same way – to have fun and have no regrets once the pads come off for the last time.

Chances are Twins General Manager Terry Ryan might take a shot at landing Peterson to play in the outfield at Target Center?

Just about as likely – Jackson comes out of retirement.