For my past sport history pieces, I’ve covered the infamous Bo Jackson, his strengths and his triumphs,his legacy and his character, without mention of tribulations, that naturally come with a career in professional sports. Surely, everyone makes mistakes, everyone has those days— athletes especially.. You may not see them, or see their demise unfold, but for those in the limelight constantly, you’ll always be able to recount pitfalls. For Bo, his love of sports allowed him to prosper in more than one—but not without long term consequence.
You see, Bo never faced resistance. From an early age, he was bullying kids to keep from going hungry. Similarly, he later had his way with historic franchise’s, going where they needed him and not where they didn’t. It was that way with the Yankees and Auburn, and then again with the Bucs, Raiders, and Royals. For Bo to train in between seasons, that’s nonsense. Nobody could force this guy to do anything he was like a raging wild boar. Bo never liked lifting anyways, so he stayed away from the gym and trainers. I believe this is the root of his demise, his arrogant independence. For as much as his legacy was solidified, his accomplishments highlighted, and his talents exposed, we remember him in a most unfortunate way—what could have been?
His passion carried him through back to back seasons, four years in a row until his hip deteriorated. It’s a simple case of staying in shape. He had a blood clot in his femur that essentially weakened his hip until the point of no return. It would have taken some tender love and care during the off seasons, but he should have either A, kept his functionability up, or B, diagnosed it and fixed it before it was a risk on the field.
The difference most likely means giving up one sport, and it would’ve been for him most beneficial to ignore professional baseball. Bleacher Report tells it as it is, “…he was a good baseball player with subpar numbers, who was overhyped because of his tendency to produce highlight reel moments”.
Despite roaring college numbers, in a career with the Royals, he never had a high enough batting average to start continuously. He brought the same type of power flare to football, however, there he was able to deliver that trophy winner caliber play at the next level, with that football in his hand. In his third consecutive season with the raiders, his last year of full play before the injury, he almost rushed for 1,000 yards on 172 carries. He averaged an insane 6.8 yards per carry as a rookie running back—as an off the bench player.
There’s no telling what he would have done if he had been a full-time starting running back for over a decade. The average life of a pro starting running back is five seasons. To think Bo only played four seasons healthy, if you can even call his deteriorating hip healthy, and achieve what he achieved is mind boggling. So even in the case of the greatest athlete of all time, it was time itself that short changed him. For reasons we can speculate on, Bo left a whole lot in the tank. But I’m not one to be sour about what never was, I’m content with re-watching highlights of him scaling walls and running over hall of fame linebackers.
God Bless you Bo.