New documentary gets to know Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson enjoys going to the supermarket much more these days.
When he was a two-sport pro athlete and pop culture star more than two decades ago, the family cook couldn't do his grocery shopping without being mobbed. Perhaps surprising for a guy who was once everywhere on TV in a classic ad campaign, not everyone knows Bo anymore.
“It really doesn't bother me that people don't know who I am,” said Jackson, who turned 50 on Friday. “It's kind of nice.”
A private person who long struggled with stuttering, Jackson has taken on a more public persona recently. In the spring, he biked across his native Alabama, recruiting celebrities to raise money for victims of the 2011 tornados that ravaged the state. Jackson was part of the four-man search committee as his alma mater, Auburn, hired Gus Malzahn as its new football coach Tuesday. And he agreed to participate in a documentary about the only man to be selected for both the NFL's Pro Bowl and baseball's All-Star Game.
“You Don't Know Bo,” about the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, will premiere Saturday on ESPN. The title, a play on Nike's famous “Bo Knows” commercials, was partly inspired by a conversation director Mike Bonfiglio had with his two teenage cousins. They didn't know Bo.
“That was a very interesting thing to me, that this guy who was so incredibly famous for a brief period of time — he was one of the most recognizable names and faces in the country,” Bonfiglio said Wednesday.
But even older fans who vividly remember Jackson's outrageous feats might not really feel as if they know Bo.
Jackson thinks everyone makes his legacy more complicated that it was. Teammates called him a freak of nature, he recalled, but “I'm just being me.”
He played running back for the Raiders and outfield for the Royals until injuring his hip in a 1991 NFL playoff game. He briefly returned to baseball after hip replacement surgery.
“I never saw it as, ‘Hey, I'm transcending an era here,' ” Jackson said. “I saw what I was doing — it was my job.”
And as normal as Jackson's feats felt to him, they were extraordinary to the fans following them.
“When people watched the things that he did on the field, it expanded their imaginations,” Bonfiglio said. “When you see something that you don't think is humanly possible, it makes you dream differently, and that's what Bo did.”