There were three basic facts that every sports fan generally accepted in the late 1980s: Michael Jordan ruled the hardwood, Wayne Gretzky lorded over ice rinks, and Bo Jackson dominated everything else. How great was Jackson? Jordan, hailed as the greatest player in NBA history, once had a cameo in a commercial starring Jackson, the two-sport star who, for a brief moment in time, was one of the most famous athletes on the planet.
It's been 35 years since Jackson began his pro baseball career following a decorated run at Auburn, both on the diamond as well as on the gridiron. After one season with the Royals, Jackson was approached by then-Raiders owner Al Davis, who offered Jackson an opportunity to star in his backfield once his baseball season was over in the fall. Jackson accepted, and three years later became the first professional athlete to be named an All-Star in two different sports. As Jackson enjoyed success with both the Raiders and Royals, his immense popularity made Nike's "Bo Knows" campaign one of the most successful ads in pro sports history. Jackson's brilliance was immortalized in the video game "Tecmo Bowl," as gamers had an unfair advantage if they chose the Raiders as their team.
Little did anyone know, however, that Jackson's meteoric rise would come to an abrupt and premature end in January of 1991. Jackson, just 28 years old, suffered a devastating hip injury during the Raiders' playoff win over the Bengals. The injury ended Jackson's NFL career, and three years later, Jackson hung up his baseball cleats for good.
In light of Jackson's 59th birthday (he was born Nov. 30, 1962), we decided to look at five crazy facts from Jackson's time with the Royals, Raiders, White Sox and Angels. If you didn't know Bo already, you're going to now.
1. NFL record-setter
Jackson averaged 5.4 yards per carry during his four seasons with the Raiders. He is tied with Hall of Famer Jim Brown for the highest career yards-per-carry average for running backs with at least 500 career attempts since 1950. Jackson averaged at least 5.5 yards per carry in three of his four NFL seasons. He averaged a whopping 6.8 yards per carry during his rookie campaign. During his final two seasons, Jackson rushed for 1,648 yards and nine touchdowns on just 298 carries for a 5.53 yards-per-carry average. During his Pro Bowl season (1990), Jackson rushed for 698 yards and five touchdowns (for a 5.6 yards-per-carry average) despite receiving just 125 carries.