The Man, The Myth, The Legend of Bo Jackson

I wanted to step away from 30 for 30 docs that focuses on either College or Professional Football, so I picked “You Don’t Know Bo” which I thought focused on baseball judging by the poster on Netflix. But upon watching the film first couple of minutes of the film I found out that I had accidentally picked a film that had a small focus on the NFL. But alas let’s dive into the key takeaways from the doc.

Like always here’s a quick summary of the doc: “A close look at two-sport athlete Bo Jackson and the creation of a legend. Even without winning a Super Bowl or World Series, Bo will forever be known as a cultural icon and one of the most famous athletes of all time.” Like the summary says this film focuses on a guy who managed to play both Football and Baseball at the professional level exceeding well. Which is how Bo Jackson has become a legend in professional sports.

I really enjoyed this doc not just because it brings together two of my favorite sports, but because it transcends sports. This film at it’s core illustrates how legends are born and Bo Jackson is certainly a legend and not just in the sports realm. I like it when sports documentaries are not just about what happened on the field but also focus on the impact of those events.

Do you know Bo Jackson? His story certainly has all the elements of a successful Hollywood movie and really who doesn’t love a movie where the leading character becomes successful and has a happy ending? I’ll let you decide if Bo Jackson ends up having a happy ending or not.

The first takeaway of the film is that Bo Jackson is a guy who managed to play two sports at the collegiate level and professional level really well. Sure athletes like Jameis Winston played both football and baseball in college, but nothing like Jackson. Jackson played baseball well enough to actually get an offer for $500,000 from the Yankees. Yet Jackson turned down the Yankees. Can you image turning down $500,000 dollars from the Yankees? Anyway, Jackson managed to play both sports exceeding well without the aid of steroids. It’s like he was just born with this talent in his blood that gave him the ability to run really fast and hit a baseball really well.

The second important part of the documentary, which plays into the notion that Bo Jackson is a one-of-a-kind athlete is that he become the first athlete to ever play professional sports with an artificial hip. That’s right, Jackson suffered an injury in a game playing for the Raiders where his hip essentially came out of the socket, so he ended up having his hip replaced. Jackson was able to come back and during his first at-bat with the Chicago White Sox hit a home run. How does that happen if Jackson isn’t some mythical being sent down to grace us with his athletic talents.

And lastly, the most important takeaway from the film is how Jackson viewed professional sports. Jackson was able to work out a deal with the Kansas City Royals that allowed him to play professional football with the Oakland Raiders during his off-season because playing football was a hobby for him. He was able to go from playing baseball to being the considered the best running back in the NFL without spending any time preparing. He didn’t spends weeks at training camp, OTAs, or practice. He was just able to slap on his pads and run the ball down the field. Imagine if that were to happen today, that athlete for sure would be drug tested every day because there is no way that an athlete could do that without the aid of steroids.

Bo Jackson is the only player to play in both an MLB All-Star Game and the NFL Pro Bowl yet he is not a Hall of Famer in either sport. It is highly unlikely that there will ever be another athlete like Bo Jackson, so his legend will remain like a tale of the Greek Gods. I suggest that you go and watch “You Don’t Know Bo” and then you tell me, did Bo Jackson get the happy ending? Or is his story really just a Greek tragedy?

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