Vincent Edward Jackson, better known as Bo Jackson, is one of those few personalities that changed the way we viewed sports — and sneakers.
There have been popular baseball stars and popular football stars, but only a handful have done both at the professional level. Bo is the only one of that select group that was an All-Star in both the MLB and NFL (sorry Deion). It’s hard to believe, but Bo is blowing out 53 candles today.
The pride of Alabama, Bo excelled in both sports through high school. He was so good in baseball that the New York Yankees drafted him in the summer of 1982. However, to please his mother and become the first in his family to attend college, he joined Auburn University on a football scholarship. While at Auburn he played football, baseball, and even did track and field.
Bo wanted to support himself and his family after college so track was taken off the table, regardless of his success. In 1986 he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the amateur draft and by the by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL draft. However, due to controversy he never played for the team and ended up on the Los Angeles Raiders.
To hear a great story about Bo Jackson’s early professional history, and the spite involved in it, click here.
Nike was on the Bo train since the beginning and hit paydirt once he started excelling in the late 1980’s. The “Bo Knows” campaign was a hit as it focused on the multi-sport professional and his athleticism. Who didn’t love seeing Bo excel in tennis, golf, racing and even music (sorta)?
The campaign and Bo also helped create the genre of cross-training. The ability for sneakers to be used in more than one sport appealed to many. Models like the Air Trainer 1, Air Trainer Max 91, and Air Trainer SC lines were all popular thanks to Bo.
Sadly, right as Nike and Bo’s campaign hit its height he suffered a hip injury that took him out of football. He played a few more years in baseball but was never the same player. Regardless, Bo and Nike created a new footwear genre and advertisements that challenge Michael Jordan’s.
The Swoosh has not forgotten about Bo as we have seen special-edition sneakers for Bo over the years. So happy 53rd birthday Mr. Jackson, thank you for all you have done with sneakers. And we will never forget his dominance in Tecmo Bowl either.