Bo Jackson is the only player in the history of sports to earn an MLB All-Star game invite one year and then a trip to Hawaii for the NFL Pro Bowl the next. For his efforts as a baseball and football superstar — before unfortunately injuring his hip in a freak accident and being forced out of football — ESPN’s Sports Science has named him the Greatest Athlete of All Time, over the legendary Jim Brown.
Jackson outlasted the Cleveland Browns running back in a 16-man bracket that was decided by a fan vote.
“Jackson’s speed qualified him for the U.S. Olympic Team for track and field, but he pursued football and baseball instead,” ESPN’s John Brenkus said. “At the 1986 NFL combine, his time of 4.12 seconds in the 40 is still the fastest ever measured at any NFL combine — and more than a tenth of a second faster than the modern combine record of 4.24 set by Titans running back Chris Johnson.”
Jackson dominated baseball and football for Auburn, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and rushing for 4,303 career yards. That is the fourth-most in SEC history and his 6.6 yards per carry average set the conference record for a player with a minimum of 400 carries. In the same year he took home the Trophy, he batted .401 while swatting 17 homers and driving in 43 runs for the Tigers’ baseball team.
He also competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes for the track team as a freshman and sophomore. He did all of this before signing with the Kansas City Royals, forgoing an opportunity to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the time, the Royals were the defending World Series champions (hard to believe nowadays, eh?).
His aforementioned hip injury shortened his promising career, but he finished his baseball career having been named the 1989 All-Star game MVP and the 1993 Comeback Player of the Year.
Ready for an amazing Bo Jackson story? Of course you are.
After Bo managed to rehab from the injury that forced him out of football after four years with the Raiders, he signed with the Chicago White Sox. Upon his return, he promised his mom that he would hit a home run in his honor.
Unfortunately, his mother passed away before his first game that year, but that did not break the promise made by her son. In his very first at-bat with the White Sox, Jackson belted a homer to right field, eventually getting that very same ball back and keeping it in a protective case.
No, that story did not have anything to do with actual, pure athleticism, but we liked it so much, we just had to share — but the very best part?
The next day, Nike ran a full-page ad in USA Today that stated simply, “Bo Knew.”
From the results of Sports Science’s tabulations, sports fans knew about Bo, too.