Since a lot of folks have asked me to write a followup to go along with my earlier column about Bo Jackson, I am glad to do it. I can certainly understand the interest people have in Bo, who in my opinion is one of the most fascinating athletes in American history.
When he was in his prime as a two-sport star in the National Football League and Major League Baseball the interest in Bo and demands on his time were up there with other superstars like a Wayne Gretzky or a Michael Jordan. I can’t imagine what it would be like with that much scrutiny, particularly for a guy like Bo who is really and truly a private person.
When we were recruiting Bo to attend Auburn he made it clear that he wanted to compete in more than one sport. I remember our conversation on that subject like it happened yesterday.
He told me, “Coach, if I come to Auburn, I want to play football in the fall, but I want to run track and play baseball in the spring.”
I said, “Bo, you won’t ever have any spring practice obligations.” And he didn’t. He never took a snap in spring football practices. He played baseball and ran track, but he did perform one of the most amazing feats that I have ever seen on a football field during spring training.
We set it up for him to race against any children who were interested in competing against Bo during halftime of an A-Day game. I remember telling him to bring some running gear that day and he did. When he got out on the field there were hundreds of kids wanting to run against him.
The race was to the end zone. Bo started at the other goal line while the kids got a large head start. I remember we had all of the cheerleaders lined up in the middle of the field to provide a running lane for Bo.
As soon as the starter said, “On your mark, get set, ready,” all the children took off and they were headed in all directions toward the goal line. It didn’t take long for Bo’s running lane to be covered with kids.
It was amazing to watch that 220-pound running back navigate through the sea of kids on his way to the end zone. He finally passed the last one at about the five-yard line.
Bo Jackson is shown making up ground on the field of kids who got a big head start in the race.
I was standing on the sidelines watching and I will never forget that scene. I remember one little boy whose eyes were as big as saucers as he was coming off the field. I asked him, “Did you beat Bo?” He said, “No, but I almost did.”
I am sure that kid will remember his race against the Heisman Trophy winner for as long as he lives, and I bet most of the kids who were on the field with Bo also have fond memories from that day.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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