Bo Jackson documentary features Bear, Bucs, Boz and Tecmo Bowl

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Bo Jackson’s NFL career lasted just 38 games, but it produced enough highlights that you could fill an afternoon surfing YouTube looking at his runs. And then you could spend another afternoon looking at his highlights from a Heisman Trophy-winning career at Auburn, from his career in Major League Baseball, and from his career as one of America’s most famous corporate pitchmen.

The upcoming ESPN documentary You Don’t Know Bo touches on all of that and more, and it’s a good look at one of the most impressive athletic careers in history. Among the highlights:

— College recruiting was different in those days, as we learn when Jackson details the way Bear Bryant tried and failed to recruit him to Alabama. In those days, a self-respecting coach like Bryant wasn’t going to genuflect to a teenager like Bo, and Bo came away decidedly unimpressed with Bryant, who thought Jackson should sit on the bench for his first couple years of college, and maybe play defensive end or linebacker instead of running back when he was ready to play. Bo went to Auburn and scored the winning touchdown to beat Alabama as a freshman.

— Jackson believed Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse manipulated him into accepting a free trip that caused him to lose his NCAA baseball eligibility, and as a result Jackson refused to sign with Tampa Bay when the Bucs chose him with the first overall pick in the 1986 NFL draft. Jackson decided to shift his focus to baseball in part because he despised the team that owned his rights, and the Bucs, who were coming off their third straight losing season, would go on to have 11 more losing seasons in a row after that.

— Bo liked Al Davis a lot better and was happy to play for the Raiders when Davis made the savvy move of selecting Jackson in the seventh round of the next year’s NFL draft. You Don’t Know Bo shows lots of Jackson’s Raiders highlights, including, of course, his famous Monday night performance in Seattle, when he ran over Brian Bosworth to get into the end zone. However, when you watch Bo’s other Raiders highlights, you realize that the Boz has gotten a little bit of a bum rap for that play: Bosworth was far from the only NFL linebacker who looked foolish trying to tackle Bo.

— And for fans who grew up playing Nintendo in the late 1980s, yes, Tecmo Bowl gets mentioned: The Japanese software developers who created Tecmo Bowl made Jackson virtually unstoppable, and therefore made him enormously popular among a certain segment of American boys who loved Tecmo Bowl.

The documentary is a good look at an NFL player who never played a full season but will never be forgotten.

22 responses to “Bo Jackson documentary features Bear, Bucs, Boz and Tecmo Bowl

  1. I will remember that run, as well as his homer in the all star game to lead off and running on the outfield wall during a catch. What an athlete.

  2. BO KNOWS!

    The best RB to never get mentioned among the greats. I understand why, but man was he awesome to watch. I still have all my posters, shirts, and collectables. He was by far my favorite player to ever watch.

    This is a little of topic, but Bryce Brown is the first RB in a long time to remind me of Bo….. but, go watch some highlights, you’ll see the similarities.

  3. Bo was so strong he could actually pull his own leg out of the hip socket – And thats what finally ended his career.

  4. Bo was an amazing freak of nature. A once in a lifetime athlete! I am glad that I got to see him play but it sucks that he career was cut so short.

  5. It’s a shame his career was cut short, especially being ended against the Bungles. He could have gone on to be the best Rbs ever to play the game. He was definately a beast, and the most gifted athlete to play two professional sports at the same time. Hope all is well Bo, and thanks for the memories!!!

  6. I was privileged to watch his entire career and I still selfishly wince about not getting to see him excel for much longer.

    Even the way he went out was better than to watch a guy in serious decline stick around too long. Like Alex Rodriguez with an equally bad set of hips.

  7. That’s what he gets for not signing with the bucs. He should of known taking a free flight to Tampa would cause violations. Bo don’t know NCAA violations!

  8. Bo was, by far, the best athlete I’ve ever seen. He had tremendous power, a drive, and talent. I worked with him on commercials here in LA. He was dumb as a box of rocks, but had tremendous charisma and couldn’t be a nicer guy. If he hadn’t had that freak injury in football, we’d be debating his place among the all time football greats.

  9. Bo wasn’t unstoppable if you knew how to scheme well by calling the right play configurations and knowing the tricks of the game. He was only unstoppable if you didn’t figure out the solutions.

  10. I can distinctly remember him being interviewed limping off the field saying “I’ll be back next week”.

    And he never came back. Illustrates how anybody’s life can change in an instant.

  11. The freak of all freaks, Bo jackson.

    Dude played in the MLB All Star game and the NFL Pro Bowl in the same year.

    As powerful a RB as you’ll ever see and as fast a RB as you’ll ever see too. What a combination.


  12. I was a member of the Cheerios Bo Club. And there was 1 pass play on several teams in Tecmo Bowl that were unstoppable. In Tecmo Super Bowl, you never wanted to face the computer with Bo in excellent condition. I always dreaded that playbook and Bo when I was romping with SF. Old school gamers know what’s up.

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