Bo Jackson, The Last Folk Hero

50:41
 
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In the 80s and 90s, few sports stars loomed as large as Bo Jackson. A Kansas City Royal and an Oakland Raider, he was the rare athlete to play two professional sports. His strength and power seemed supernatural. He soared into end zones, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.13 seconds, hit meteoric home runs, and broke baseball bats over his head for fun. And those were just his documented exploits. Because Bo played in an era before smartphones, stories circulated — that could never be entirely proven or disproven — that he was capable of even more impressive feats. The guy was the stuff of legends.

For this reason, Jeff Pearlman has entitled his new biography of Bo: The Last Folk Hero. Today on the show, Jeff and I talk about Bo's Paul Bunyan-esque stature, and the real life behind the legend. We discuss both the flaws and the strengths of Bo Jackson, and how natural talent can be both a hindrance and a help, as we trace his life from an impoverished upbringing as one of ten kids, to how he managed to secure an arrangement where he got to play two professional sports. Jeff explains how Bo never liked to practice — because he was so naturally gifted he didn't need to — why Bo didn't take the deal when the Yankees tried to draft him out of high school, the flash-bulb moments he achieved in college and the pros, how a hip injury ended his football days but didn't entirely finish him off for baseball, and why, after such a neon career, Bo has largely disappeared from the public eye.

Bo Highlights Mentioned in the Show

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