Vincent Edward Jackson is one of the few players to be named an All-Star in two major sports specifically in baseball and football. Here are some very interesting facts about the American football player:
His efforts in two sports earned a legend status with stories about him jumping over 40ft-wide ditch, killing a boars with stone throws, catching a ball in the baseball outfield and then climbing up the wall and even snapping baseball bats in two with his bare hands.
He was born Vincent Edward Jackson on November 30, 1962, in Bessemer, Alabama, USA.
He was the eighth of ten children and was raised has a single parent child by his mother Florence Jackson Bond, a housekeeper. His father A.D. Adams never wed his mother.
Jackson nicknamed ‘Bo’ wild boar for short, due to his reputation as a troublemaker. Athletics proved to be the answer to stay out of trouble and was put under track coach Dick Atchinson, to whom he credits his life.
He was a natural athlete and excelled in several sports including baseball, football and athletics at McAdory High School in McCalla, Alabama. He was two time state champion in Decathlon and set his school indoor record in high jump and triple jump.
In 1982, he was selected by the New York Yankees in the MLB Draft, but he chose football scholarship to Auburn University, as per the wish of his mother, who wanted him to complete his education.
His athletic skill as a high jumper was very much evident in reversing nine year losing streak against Alabama on November 27, 1982. Jackson was the deciding factor with just 2:26 left he jumped over the defensive line on the critical 4th down play from the 1-yard touchdown to pull off a 23-22 victory dubbed as ‘Bo Over the Top.’
As part of Auburn College Football team, he rushed for 4,303 yards in four seasons with 43 touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards per carry, which is a record in SEC.He was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and his jersey number 34 was officially retired in 1992.
He qualified for the NCAA nationals in the 100m dash in his freshman and sophomore years with his personal best of 10.39. But could not continue his track & field career as MLB and NFL were more lucrative.
Although he was selected by the ‘Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ in the 1986 NFL Draft, but he refused to play for them for he believed they tried to sabotage his baseball career during his senior years at college.
He signed up with ‘Kansas City Royals’ in the fourth round of 1986 amateur draft and waded his way through to Royals’ main team playing with Memphis Chicks and the Royals’ Class AA minor league.
In 1987, while still pursuing his baseball career with KCR, he was selected as 183 pick by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1987 NFL Draft. He was permitted by the Raiders owner Al Davis to play for them after the baseball season.
His memorable game as rookie was against Seattle Seahawks, on a Monday Night Football, on November 30, when he rushed for 221 yards with three touchdowns. His 221 yards was a single game record for the franchise, was broken in 1997 by Napoleon Kaufman.
He was with Raiders for four seasons until the injury and tallied 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns with average yards per carry of 5.4. He also caught 40 passes for 352 yards.
Jackson established himself in 1989 and started for the American League All-Star team. He was named the games’ MVP with two hits in four at-bats, one run scored and two RBI. He became the second player in All-Star Game history to hit a homerun and steal a base in the same game.
His versatile on the filed can be exemplified in a game against Orioles on July 29, 1988, when speaking to umpire he turned in time to swing and hit the pitch over the left field wall for a home run just as it was on its way to the plate and in another game on June 05, 1989, he fired a strike on the fly to run out Harold Reynold, which would have been an easy run scored against most outfielders.
On July 11, 1990, in the game against Orioles, he performed his famous ‘wall run’ when he caught the ball at full tilt and ran three steps along the wall to avoid risking an injury.
On January 13, 1991, Jackson suffered hip injury from seemingly routine tackle at the 34 yard run in a play-off game against Bengals. He was tackled from behind by linebacker Kevin Walker.
According to Jackson, in the film ‘You Don’t Know Bo’ he said, the moment he discovered the injury, he physically popped his hip back into the socket and in the process damaged the blood vessels supplying blood to the area later diagnosed as avascular necrosis.
On March 18, 1991, Jackson was released from his contract commitment by the Kansas City Royals because of a potentially career-ending hip injury he suffered on the football field. He had just signed a $ 2.38 million contract in February.
Playing for Chicago White Sox returning from hip replacement surgery, he hit a home-run in his first at-bat as promised to his mother but she was not alive to see it. Jackson had the ball encased in acrylic and bolted to the dresser in her room.
Jackson announced his retirement at the age of 32 during his stint with California Angels. The 1994-95 baseball strike only hastened his decision. He was quoted post his retirement ‘I got to know my family.’ ‘That looks better to me than any $ 10 million contract.’
He has featured in several video games such as Tecmo Bowl, Kia Sorento, Bo Jackson’s Hit and Run, NFL Street 2 and in the Madden series.
He along with Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan was portrayed a cartoon character in the NBA Saturday morning cartoon show ‘ProStars.’ He also played the sports radio jockey on the TV show ‘Married with Children.’
He appeared in an episode of TV series ‘Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,’ in which he plays a game of basketball with Superman and also in the episode of ‘Naked Babies’ of the Diagnosis Murder series as a nanny to four babies.
He was named the recipient of ‘2011 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, as recognition of his distinguished career.
He kept his promise to his mother by completing his graduation in December 1995 from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in family and child development.
He married Linda Garrett, a clinical psychologist on September 05, 1987 and they have two sons and a daughter.
In 2007 he along with John Cangelosi formed ‘Bo Jackson Elite Sports Complex’ in Lockport, Illinois. He has also invested in food company ‘N’Genuity.’
In an interview to American Newspaper ‘USA Today’ Jackson admitted that he would never have played football had he known of the health risks associated with game which has become more violent and rough and its effect on head injuries.