Bo Jackson Wouldn’t Play Football If He Could Do It All Over Again

What if the two-sport superstar would have only played baseball?


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Bo Jackson, a two-sport superstar who was among America’s most famous athletes in the late ’80s and early ’90s, was the star of one of the most famous ad campaigns in sports history. You know how it goes. 

Now, 30 years after his debut in the NFL, Jackson is admitting there’s one thing he didn’t know until recently—football is incredibly dangerous. If he could go back in time, he would sit out the sport that made him famous. 

“If I knew back then what I know now I would have never played football. Never.” Jackson told USA Today Thursday. “I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody.”

He added that would never let his kids play football today. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.'”

When Jackson played the game, CTE, the chronic brain disease found in many a dead football player, was still decades from being discovered. Once it was, the NFL tried like hell to bury it. Only in the past few years has the discussion of football’s damaging effects on the human brain become a common knowledge. And if Jackson were playing the game today, that knowledge would force him to walk away, like it has a handful of players in recent years.

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Of course, football’s dangers aren’t restricted to brain injuries. Jackson famously injured his hip on the field after Bengals linebacker Kevin Walker yanked his hip out of the socket. He would play one more game before his football career ended.

But that’s not all that ended. Jackson played baseball too. And even though he got at bats for three more seasons in the Majors, the hip injury essentially ruined his baseball career. So when Jackson says he wouldn’t play football knowing what he knows now, he’s not just saying he’d like to avoid brain and bodily injuries. He’s saying, he’d like to know what he could have done on the diamond in a full career that was uninterrupted and unimpeded by football.

Perhaps there would’ve been more moments like this?