We pity anyone too young or too unlearned to comprehend what was the “Bo Knows” Phenomenon. Beginning with his Heisman Trophy winning career at Auburn – coming in the same era that Nike was elevating pro player marketing to an art form – Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson became an icon of athletic prowess. He was so gifted, in fact, that Bo couldn’t simply sport tennis or running or basketball shoes like his peers toted (correction, his colleagues ; back then, no one believed Bo had peers). No, Bo wore “cross-trainers,” the multi purpose sneakers for uber-talented jocks.
Anyone as big as Bo was makes news not just for what they do, but what they choose not to do. So it was a two-headed headline when on this date in football (and baseball), June 21, 1986, Jackson announced that he would sign a contract with the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals rather than play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – who had selected him first overall in that April’s Draft. When a year elapsed and Bo honored his commitment to not sign with the Bucs, his pro football rights went back up for grabs. In the 7th round of the 1987 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Raiders selected him, signing Jackson to a contract that allowed him to play Major League Baseball in his spare time.
No man can say whether the late 80s Bucs might have enjoyed better fortunes had Bo opted to sport their grinning creamsicle pirate logo. What anyone who saw him perform can say, is that Bo Jackson was a truly unforgettable athlete. Today we look back at him in his halcyon days, as originally presented in 1989 on This is the NFL.