This past weekend following the Heisman Trophy presentation, ESPN aired the final episode in their 30 for 30 series (season 2). Titled You Don't Know Bo: The Legend of Bo Jackson, the show documents the historic story of the professional baseball and football legend.
A close look at two-sport athlete Bo Jackson and the creation of a legend. Even without winning a Super Bowl or World Series, Bo will forever be known as a cultural icon and one of the most famous athletes of all time. This film will examine the truths and tall tales that surround Jackson, and how his seemingly impossible feats captured our collective imagination for an all-too-brief moment in time.
I am not a sports fan. So when the idea of making a film about Bo Jackson -- someone who played not one, but two sports professionally -- first came about, I was very intrigued, but more than a little intimidated.
I began reading about Bo, watching highlights of him in action, and speaking with a wide array of people about him. And I noticed something I'd never experienced before. At the mere mention of the name "Bo Jackson," people -- including Bo's contemporaries on the diamond and gridiron (some Hall of Famers) -- immediately lit up in excitement, wonder, and awe. I soon came to understand that the story of Bo Jackson isn't really a sports story. It's a superhero story. A legend.
Bo's year-round omnipresence in the late 80's and early 90's -- not only on the playing field but as a cultural icon due to Nike's landmark "Bo Knows" ad campaign -- made him a star even to people like me who never followed sports. But when I talked to anyone under the age of thirty, even sports fans, I realized that unless you were alive during that time, you may never have heard of Bo Jackson. Bo never won a championship. He doesn't appear in many record books and he never won any major awards in the pros. Instead, he captured people's imaginations.
The writer Jeremy Schaap told me that Bo Jackson was, "like something out of Homer." His story is an epic, classic hero's journey that would seem cliché if it weren't (mostly) true. And because we only had him at his full power for a fleeting moment, the legend of Bo Jackson forces us to continue dreaming, perpetually wondering about what else he might have done that would cause us to marvel.