Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson (born November 30, 1962) is an American former multi-sport athlete who played professional football in the NFL and Major League Baseball simultaneously, and was the first athlete named an All-Star in both sports.
Jackson received his nickname when his brothers shortened the word "boar" - as in "wild boar."
Born in Bessemer, Alabama, Jackson was originally drafted by the New York Yankees but chose to attend Auburn University from 1982 to 1985 instead, where he was an astounding all-around athlete. Jackson batted .401 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs in 1985, qualified for the 60-yard dash in his freshman and sophomore years, and won the 1985 Heisman Trophy for his abilities as a running back; he was named MVP of both the Sugar Bowl in 1983 and the Liberty Bowl in 1984.
Jackson was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first pick of the 1986 draft, but he opted to play baseball for the Kansas City Royals instead, spending most of the season in the minor leagues before being called up for regular duty in 1987, when he had 22 home runs, 53 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as an outfielder for the Royals. He began to show his true potential in 1989, when he was selected to the American League All-Star team, and was named the game's MVP for his play on both offense and defense. He finished the season by being 4th in the AL in both HRs (32) and RBI (105); in 1990 he raised his batting average as well, but the increasing questions about his football career contributed to a decline in his overall totals.
Following the 1987 baseball season, Jackson decided to again play football (just as a "hobby", he said) and joined the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders, rushing for 554 yards in 81 carries in just seven games. Over the next three seasons, Bo Jackson would rush for 2,228 more yards with 12 touchdowns.
In both baseball and football, Jackson's feats became the stuff of folklore and legend. Once, for the Royals, after catching a flyball near the warning track in the outfield, Bo threw a rocket-lauched strike home -- on the fly (the ball never touched the ground) -- and threw out speedy future-MVP Harold Reynolds as he was attempting to score from 3rd Base after tagging up. And who could forget his scintillating, 221-yard rushing performance in 1987 on Monday Night Football for the Raiders against the Seattle Seahawks?
Jackson became a popular figure for his athleticism in multiple sports through the late 1980s and early 1990s. He endorsed Nike and launched a popular ad campaign called "Bo Knows" which envisioned Jackson attempting to take up a litany of other sports, including tennis, golf, luge, auto racing, and even blues music with Bo Diddley.
However, during a Raiders playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991, Jackson suffered a serious hip injury which ended his football career and seriously threatened his baseball career. Following surgery and rehabilitation on his injured hip, it was discovered that Jackson had avascular necrosis, which caused deterioration of the cartilage and bone around his left hip.
Jackson gamely attempted to soldier on, but soon it was evident that his hip was not up to the task. Jackson therefore had an artificial hip implanted in 1992, which caused him to miss the entire 1992 baseball season. When he announced soon after his surgery that he would play baseball again, many thought that goal to be unrealistic, especially at the Major League level.
However, Jackson was able to return to the Chicago White Sox in 1993, and incredibly at his first at bat, he homered on his first swing. The next day Nike ran a full-page ad in USA Today; it simply read "Bo Knew."
He would hit 16 home runs and 45 RBIs that season; but while his power remained, he no longer possessed his blazing speed. During his time with the White Sox, Jackson hit only 13 extra-base hits and had no stolen bases. For the 1994 season, he was sent to the California Angels for one final season before retiring.
In his eight baseball seasons, Jackson had a career average of .250, hit 141 home runs and had 415 RBIs, with a slugging average of .474. In his four seasons in the NFL, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with an average yards per carry of 5.4. Jackson's 221 yards on November 30, 1987 is still a Monday Night Football record.
Jackson was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Game Two of the 2005 World Series.