Bo knows prudence, too. Now an ambassador for the Chicago White Sox visiting Arizona during spring training, Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson offered his thoughts on pro athletes trying to play two sports — notably Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who recently got some reps with the Texas Rangers in Cactus League practice.
What did Bo tell the media, including Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago?
Just (don’t) do it:
An All-Star in both baseball and football, Jackson said his advice for Wilson is the same he offers to kids who attend his Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports complex in Lockport, Ill.
“Stick to what got you in the headlines, not baseball,” Jackson said. “Twenty-five or 30 years ago when I did it, I’m not trying to say anything negative about other athletes, but the talent pool wasn’t that deep. In this day in age, with all the high-tech training, computer-engineered workouts and the proper food and diet, if you try to concentrate on two sports, I guarantee you’re going to ride the bench in both because the talent is that deep. Stick to whatever sport you’re comfortable with and let everything else go.”
And that goes for Bo, too, he said. Jackson emphasized that he doesn’t think he’d be able to cut it playing two sports these days. Too much competition.
Jackson might be right to a degree — his journey to the majors in two sports might not have been as spectacular, or appeared to come as easily to him, were it happening now. But it would be happening.
Would young Bo Jackson today be unable to play in the NFL? This just doesn’t ring true at all. Too much speed, too much size. Maybe he doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy (if that’s conceivable), but he’d be a productive college player and viable in the NFL. Better than viable. As for baseball, maybe he would have struck out more and homered less. But he could have played as well as, say, Jeff Francoeur. While there’s only one of those in real life, there could be two Francoeurs in this alternate Bo-niverse that Jackson has conjured. And neither of them are running up a fence in Baltimore anytime soon.
Deion Sanders might have a harder time in baseball, too, were he current. Good enough to play for a few seasons, not good enough to dominate. Probably a lot more boring, as a result. But he’d still get a chance. And, even still, somebody will pay Hypothetical Bo or Modern-Day Deion enough money to stick to one sport.
Wilson’s stats in the low minors aren’t encouraging for the future, and he’s already 25 years old. He’s not even getting a real chance here. His spring stint with the Rangers was fun, but it was more about publicity than baseball.
So, roughly 20 years after Bo retired and 13 after Sanders quit baseball, we really haven’t seen anyone follow in their footsteps. It’s what made those times in the late ’80s and early ’90s so special. It’s a good thing for us that both were ahead of their time.
Wilson is the best example we have of a possible two-sport guy because he’s actually trying two sports, kind of. There probably are better examples of NFL athletes who could play Major League Baseball. They just aren’t trying. They’re listening to Bo.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Russell Wilson
- Bo Jackson
- Chicago White Sox