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Wednesday (Imagining Bo Jackson today) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Professional football Updated: October 14, 2009 - 9:47 AM

We have no idea why we started thinking about Bo Jackson (and to a lesser extent, Deion Sanders) this morning. But now we're here. And we can't stop thinking about the early part of Jackson's pro career, the dual-sport thing, and whether it would fly today. It seemed special at the time. Crazy, even. But it didn't seem absurd. Now it seems absurd when you lay out the facts:

*Jackson had professional contracts to play two major sports whose seasons overlap.

*In 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990, he played almost 500 games in the major leagues and 38 in the NFL -- about three-fourths of a baseball season and about 60 percent of an NFL season, on average.

*In 1989, he had 32 home runs, 105 RBI, 26 stolen bases, hit that memorable home run in the all star game (below), finished 10th in the MVP race, played his final game for the Royals on Sept. 30 and then swooped over to join the Raiders, for whom he carried 11 times for 85 yards in his first game of the season Oct. 15.

For four years in a row he basically joined the Raiders around mid-season! This is an old fact, but it's really stunning, isn't it? Seriously, would this happen today? Would you find two teams in two leagues that would agree to share a player like this? With contracts being what they are? With the money being what it is? Remember, this was two decades ago. Sports were a big deal, but they weren't what they are today. Could there really be another Bo Jackson right now, regardless of how ridiculously talented he was in both areas? Maybe it could be tried for a season. That's the most we can see happening. But Jackson, the Royals and Raiders basically had this going for four consecutive years. Can you even fathom Joe Mauer getting back into football shape and deciding he wants to play catcher and QB professionally? Or Antonio Gates joining an NBA team in January?

Your thoughts in the comments. But first, watch the home run.



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