Shrewdly scheduled to follow coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation on Dec. 8, ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” documentary, “You Don’t Know Bo,” does service to the legend of Bo Jackson, both for those who saw him play and those to whom he might be little more than the vague slogan from a Nike ad.
The 76-minute doc, directed by Michael Bonfiglio, includes an extensive interview with Jackson — the
two-sport star who remains the only man ever chosen to play in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and the NFL Pro Bowl, yet who made the Hall of Fame in neither sport because of his injury-shortened career.
Jackson was, by any measure, a phenom — so big, so fast, so athletic. “With a player like that,” his college baseball coach, Hal Baird, says, “just get him in uniform and get him to the park on time.”
Jackson grew up poor in Alabama, won the Heisman at Auburn and was drafted to play baseball, where he combined enormous power with staggering speed. The Raiders then picked him up to play in the NFL as well, which he called “a hobby” at the time.
The best comment might belong to journalist Jeremy Schaap, who notes Jackson was “ideally suited to the age of the highlight.” What really makes the doc sizzle, though, are reminiscences from other retired players about how they marveled at Jackson’s exploits along with everyone else. As fellow Raider Howie Long says, Jackson was one of those rare talents who could “make great athletes look average.”
Today, Jackson (who still likes to refer to himself in the third person) is a middle-aged guy with an interest in archery who just might have been the most gifted athlete of his generation.
And Bo — along with a lot of other people — knows that, too.