The Guardian’s Grove

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Apr 1, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Bo Jackson throws out the first pitch prior to a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The historical argument to the contrary is a good one most of us are familiar with; that despite his brilliance, Jackson only played 4 half-seasons in the NFL, and his body of work simply isn’t great enough to warrant consideration for the Hall of Fame. This is fair argument and a difficult one to refute. Yet, guys like Bo Jackson remain impactful and inspirational to the game, not simply for the statistics that he put up on the field, but also for his demonstrated integrity and character off of it. For those who are unfamiliar with is story, Bo Jackson remained true to himself in the face two head coaches, Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant and Tampa Bay’s Leeman Bennett, each time refusing to play for men whom he believed where manipulating him to their personal ends rather than treating him with common decency; and notably, he was correct. He may not have been as flashy as contemporaries like “Neon” Deion Sanders or Head Coach Mike Ditka (both Hall of Famers), but the quiet professionalism and role model status of a man who shot to stardom in two professional sports simultaneously has never been seen before or since.

Indeed, despite a full hip replacement in 1991, Jackson still managed a come-back to play Major League Baseball. During his rehabilitation, Jackson promised his mother he would not only play again, but once he got back to the plate he would hit a home run for her. Before that occurred his mother, Florence Bond, passed away. After returning to the game, at his first at bat as a member of the Chicago White Sox, Jackson hit a home run. He recovered the ball, had it encased in acrylic, and it was bolted to the dresser in Ms. Bond’s bedroom.