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Read Bo Jackson’s 1985 scouting report

May 7, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT

Dayn Perry posted about this over at CBS. Someone picked it up at Reddit before that. Whoever unearthed this, however, is deserving of our gratitude, because it’s awesome sauce: it’s Bo Jackson’s scouting report when he played at Auburn:


I think a lot of people my age tend to over-project what Bo Jackson could have been if he had stuck with baseball only and didn’t get injured. He was great but had some flaws in his game and was, at his best, a better football player than he was a baseball player. But no one since back in Jim Thorpe’s day was able to play multiple sports at the level Jackson ever did.  Perry suggests that Jackson may be the greatest athlete in U.S. history.  I think there’s a good argument for that.

  1. b453841l - May 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    no mention of running underwater with parachute attached?

  2. Jason @ IIATMS - May 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Too bad Tecmo Bo wasn’t a 2 sport video athlete. We can only dream.

  3. mybrunoblog - May 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Bo Jackson. Best athlete I ever saw. Espn did a story on him recently and they captured it perfectly. If you didn’t see Bo play you might not understand just how damn gifted this guy was.
    In retrospect, Bo did so many things so well that I think in fact Bo did know Diddley.

    • pinkfloydprism - May 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      I was just about to mention this. I watched it on NetFlix the other night. Bo was my favorite player when I was in High School, and that ESPN story was amazing!

    • jarathen - May 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      I saw him play. Unfortunately, it was for the Angels.

    • moogro - May 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      mybrunoblog: Right on. I remember him (coming after Ricky Henderson and others) causing discussions at the time that these speed and power guys were transforming the physics of the game. It didn’t really pan out, but for a while there it seemed like things like defensive positioning and outfield wall distance were going to have to be seriously rethought. That was the excitement of players like Bo.

  4. beefytrout - May 7, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    He should have just written “All of them.” under “Abilities”.

    • jarathen - May 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      LIke the Ron Swanson of baseball skills.

  5. louhudson23 - May 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    Curve balls were never a welcome sight for Bo,but he never gave in to anyone….the Bosworths of the world were much easier for him to hit….

  6. stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Easily the best athlete I have ever seen play. Just amazingly gifted. And he always seemed so humble.
    With those skills…I would be a hard guy to be around.

  7. The Common Man - May 7, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    And now he’s doing ads for 5 hour energy that depress the shit out of me. Sigh.

    • heyblueyoustink - May 7, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      He’s actually their “official spokesman” on a signed deal and five hour energy isn’t like Crazy Eddie’s or something. No reason to be sad, Bo knows marketing himself.

      • The Common Man - May 7, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        I know. It’s just that I have a hard time reconciling the Bo I remember with the middle-aged Bo who needs an energy drink to get through a round of golf.

      • heyblueyoustink - May 7, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        Akin to Wilt Chamberlain ( yes, I know he’s no longer with us ) becoming a spokesman for Viagra. Got it.

      • nightman13 - May 7, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Well 5 Hour Energy has been named a potential contributor to several heart related deaths in adolescents so I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest product to pitch.

  8. aceshigh11 - May 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Bo, you don’t know diddly.

    Wow, watching that makes me feel old.

    • bla bla bla - May 7, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      One of the best commercials ever. And yeah… those of us that remember it are old.

  9. danaking - May 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I saw him play at Fenway Park his rookie years with the Royals. Early season game; Patriots Day, I think. He hit a routine two-hopper to shortstop, where it was played properly and quickly, and Bo beat it out easily. You could hear the jaws of thousands of Red Sox fans dropping simultaneously. It doesn’t seem like much to read, or to a non-fan, but when you’ve seem thousands upon thousands of similar group balls result in routine outs and he beat it easily from the right-hand batter’s box…well, damn.

    I’m grateful to this day for the chance to have seen him play.

    • skeleteeth - May 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      I also saw him @ Fenway in 88 at the beginning of that 23 game home win streak for the Sox or whatever. Hit a homer to center almost completely out of the park and made a ridiculous diving catch in center.

      Then of course there’s the flat-footed throw from the left field wall in the Kingdome to home on a line to nail Harold Reynolds.

  10. mianfr - May 7, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    I am definitely part of the post-Bo era, but I just can’t get excited about his on-field accomplishments.

    I know how incredibly physically gifted he was and the “Wow” moments he was capable of producing, but it all seems like a product of a simpler era where Steve Garvey could be a star and the nuances his game lacked would have hurt him if he lasted long enough to be viewed with a Sabermetric eye.

    He never played a full season of football, never rushed for 1000 yards (although he had tremendous YPC averages), and never did anything particularly well in baseball for long stretches of time.

    I guess I had to be there.

    • tuberippin - May 7, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      It’s tough to play baseball at 100% capacity when you have a hip replacement and degenerative hips (he has avascular necrosis, the same issue that held up Mike Napoli’s contract with Boston this past off-season).

      And he never ran for 1,000 yards in the NFL because when he played for the Raiders he was the 2nd-string running back behind a Hall of Fame RB and one of the fastest and most elusive RBs of all time, Marcus Allen. Even then, when he first came into the league halfway through the ’87 season, he still ran for nearly 600 yards, which would have been closer to 1,200 over a full season’s worth of games. And just to show you how incredible his talent was, I believe he still holds the record for most rushing yards on MNF, with 221 yards.

    • weaselpuppy - May 7, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      Try and SABR running up the outfield walls…

      • mianfr - May 8, 2013 at 12:09 AM

        This is what I mean… All logic goes out the door when it comes to Bo Jackson for some reason. Everything comes with a caveat, but it seems like he was more of a force of nature as a baseball player than an outright star.

  11. DelawarePhilliesFan - May 7, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    “I think a lot of people my age tend to over-project what Bo Jackson could have been if he had stuck with baseball only and didn’t get injured.”

    Count me as one of them. I have, and always will believe he would have played into his late 30’s if he stuck with baseball, and could have been a 400 HR guy, perhaps more.

  12. gatorprof - May 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

    Re: “But no one since back in Jim Thorpe’s day was able to play multiple sports at the level Jackson ever did.”

    See Sanders, Deion. Different type of athlete, but just as gifted.

    Jim Brown was also better at LAX than he was at football.

    You need to be careful when you toss around comments like that.

    • mybrunoblog - May 7, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Deion was a truly gifted athlete too no doubt about it. That said, Bo asked the neon one to carry his athletic supporter one sunny day but Deion said he couldn’t lift it.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        “Bo asked the neon one to carry his athletic supporter one sunny day but Deion said he couldn’t lift it.”

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        Funny…funny stuff Bruno!
        Deion was something. QB’s threw to the other side of the field. But running backs, receivers and tight ends ran right at him when they had the ball. Perhaps the all time worse tackler in the history of NFL defensive backs.

      • badintent - May 8, 2013 at 2:18 AM

        To be the worst tackling DB , you have to actually attempt to make a few tackles. Deon never quaified but he did trip a few runners.

    • brewcrewfan54 - May 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Brown probably wasn’t so much better at LAX he was just playing against guys with a lot less athletic ability because he was playing LAX.

      • gatorprof - May 7, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Congrats on winning the most ignorant post of the day.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - May 7, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      Jim Brown was also better at LAX than he was at football.

      This needs to be repeated. Jim Brown, possibly the best RB in the history of the NFL, is also in the lacrosse HoF. Some even consider him the best LAX player ever.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Crap! Sorry Church. I didn’t see your post. But you were on it!

    • stlouis1baseball - May 7, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      “Jim Brown was also better at LAX than he was at football.”

      Let me fix this…

      Jim Brown was also widely considered the greatest Lacrosse player of all time.

    • yardleyphils - May 7, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Deion was nowhere near the baseball player Bo was.

      • gatorprof - May 7, 2013 at 4:03 PM

        The numbers don’t really reflect that. Bo wasn’t really that great of a baseball player. He could do some freakish things, but

        Career numbers of .250/.309/.784 aren’t considered spectacular. They are better than Deion’s, mainly because of raw power, but not by much, .263/.319/.711.

      • drakosm - May 7, 2013 at 9:24 PM

        Bo had a career OPS+ of 112. Deion’s was 89. That’s a pretty sizeable difference.

    • weaselpuppy - May 7, 2013 at 3:05 PM

      Bo did everything Deion did as a much bigger man, plus hit for power, had a better OF arm and actually hit people on the football field.

      People overestimate Deion to greater degree they do Bo. Self Promotion effect.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - May 7, 2013 at 7:02 PM

      Deion Sanders was not the baseball player Bo was, not even close. You can’t just whip out stats like you did below either – Deoin never played more then half the time. Its easy to inflate your numbers when you sit againt tough pitchers.

  13. scoutsaysweitersisabust - May 7, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Link to the original site hosting this and countless other scouting reports. I could sit on a beach with a few iced beverages and read this stuff for the rest of my life.

    • Detroit Michael - May 7, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      There’s also two other scouting reports for Bo Jackson there.

  14. mplsjoe - May 7, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Bo Jackson = Good Face.

  15. buddaley - May 7, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    I was among those who considered Jackson more spectacular than good and questioned whether he would ever truly be a baseball star. But looking at his career, I notice that between ages 24-27 he improved every year in most offensive categories. In his final year in KC, he had fewer plate appearances than the year before, but his BB rate improved dramatically, near 10% of PAs, while his K rate went down a bit and his Home Run rate improved a bit also.

    Unfortunately that was his last relatively full season, so we can’t know what would have happened had he gone through his peak years, but given the character description in the report and the steady improvement in his performance, it might really have been special.

  16. randall351 - May 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Bo Jackson is the reason I am an avid Raiders/Royals fan, which of course has offered me much more heartache since neither team has been particularly good for the bulk of my life. I can only dream about the number of championships both teams would have won had it not been for that freak injury. An I still have my sweet Bo Jackson Hit and Run poster that featured him wearing both team jerseys.

    Also seeing my buddy run for 1,000 yards with him in a single game on Tecmo Bowl was pretty awesome.

  17. genericcommenter - May 7, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Derek Jeter’s report said he had poor hitting ability with the potential to become below average. Yet also raved about how he was a can’t miss guy (I guess that’s because anyone with a shot and merely making the majors at some point is well above all the rest). It’s great he has turned into a light hitting Gold Glove SS.

  18. 13arod - May 7, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    too bad he is retired pitches needed this when he was playing baseball

  19. hansob - May 7, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Calm down. It’s getting a little “Bill Brasky-like” in here.

    • sportsdrenched - May 7, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      Bo Jackson offered an IPO for his biceps and made 500 million dollars! (adjusted for inflation)

  20. franklb - May 7, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    I remember three things about Bo. I actually witnessed one of these in person:

    1) Royals v. Orioles (I was in Memorial Stadium in Baltimore for this one). Bo, playing CF, ran down a ball in left center. With his world class speed, he was moving so fast toward the wall that the only way he could avoid it was to scale it. He left a cleat mark about eight feet up.

    2) All-Star Game. 450 foot HR on a pitch that was down around his ankles.

    3) Leaving a cleat mark on Brian Bosworth’s chest as he ran over Boz as if there were no one there.

    I won’t presume to take anything away from Jim Brown. I never saw him play, so am not qualified to compare Brown and Jackson. But Bo, whose hitting (the only weakness on that scouting report) improved every year until he got injured, was one of the most exciting baseball players I ever saw. Definitely had all five tools. His career numbers belied his year-to-year improvement. As a football player, he was none too shabby, either. And those Nike commercials were epic (the Maddux/Glavine/McGwire/Locklear “Chicks Dig the Long Ball” commercial is still my all-time favorite NIke bit, but still…)

  21. Minoring In Baseball - May 7, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Report on Bo: This guy is the sh!t. The end.

  22. sportsdrenched - May 7, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    Bo was in his prime when I was a wee lad so while I remmber him breaking his bat with his bare hands, cranking that monster Hr in the All-Star game, gunning down Harold Reynolds at the plate from deep left at the King Dome. I don’t think the enormity of those things set in until I was an adult. Good times.

  23. scoocha - May 8, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Solid baseball player, just wish he had done 8 seasons in NFL. He would have been a certain HOFer.

  24. yahmule - May 8, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    I never saw a top running back pull himself out of more games with “tight” quads or hamstrings than Bo Jackson. Primarily because few other backs could have gotten away with that kind of thing. He did it @ Auburn (vs Alabama, among others) and he did it with the Raiders.

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