If someone told you in 1985, that Bo Jackson’s 1985 Heisman Trophy would be arguably the highest accolade of his athletic career, you probably wouldn’t believe them. Not. One. Bit.
During the early-to-mid 1980s, Bo Jackson was in the midst of creating some sort of mythical presence and anecdote that was always attached to his name. Backflipping in water up to his hips, crushing 500-foot home runs, running the 100-yard-dash in 9.5 seconds, taking batting practice and knocking down the batting cage; the list goes on and on!
Bo was born in Bessemer, Alabama, and was the eighth of ten children. Described as a problem child, Bo channeled his anger and aggression into sports and blossomed into one of the finest football and baseball prospects the country had ever seen.
In his ESPN 30 for 30 You Don’t Know Bo, he explained his decision to go to Auburn and spurn the Crimson Tide, with the Tigers promising him immediate playing time as a freshman, something Alabama was not going to give him. Turns out, it was one of the biggest mistakes Alabama has ever made (second, of course, to the Kick-Six).
Bo made his presence felt the moment he set foot onto campus, and became an Auburn legend in his very first Iron Bowl with “Bo Over the Top.” There he was, a mere freshman, with his signature moment in the arguably the biggest college football rivalry there is, though Ohio State and Michigan would have something to say about that.
He would go on to become the full-time starter following his freshman season, rushing for more than 1,000 yards in his sophomore and senior campaigns. In his ’85 and final year – you could hear a collective sigh of relief from other SEC schools – Bo would rush for 1,786 yards on the ground to go along with 17 scores. At the time, his 6.4 yards per carry was the best ever in SEC history and 1,786 yards was the second-best in SEC history, behind the one and only Herschel Walker.
His historic senior season led his to the Heisman Trophy, which he won over Iowa quarterback Chuck Long in what was the closest margin of victory at the time.
Bo would go onto prosperous, but incredibly short-lived professional baseball and football careers. Arguably the greatest athlete of all time would become an all-star in both sports, but a hip injury derailed his athletic career. He is not in the Hall of Fame in either sport.
Still, the legend of Bo Jackson continues to live on, as athletes recognize his legacy and still strive to reach his feats.