30 For 30 Review: You Don’t know Bo

When the 30 for 30 series was first started, I for one was excited. I loves me some history, and with the pure money and tape library, ESPN has at its fingertips an ability to explore any topic or subject matter it wants.You don't know Bo

When Bill Simmons (I am admittedly a fanboy of all things Simmons) wanted to launch a series to explore little known or explored topics that took place during the first 30 years of the ESPN Era, I was even more excited, as time went on, however, this tended to be thrown out (Jordan’s baseball career was barely explored?)  But again, I felt that I could learn from most documentaries, and could easily learn from these. The First Doc, Kings Ransom about Wayne Gretzky’s move to the Kings, was awesome in its telling about a sport I barely cared about. The Followup, The Band that Wouldn’t Die about the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, was even better, even though I knew more details about the moving of the team, this was very much a “Hidden Story” that 30 for 30 was supposed to be about.

Season III has started this year, and has been even more hit or miss than the years before.

Broke was a disappointment, 9.79 was a bit repetitive and boring, Ghosts of Ole Miss, to be honest with you, seemed like the same story told over and over again. Racism and the SEC schools has been done, over and over. This was a rare doc. Story that needs to be told- that has been told before and to be honest, better.

The latest one, You Don’t Know Bo by Michael Bonfiglio is not exactly a riveting story, I don’t know if its the fact that I know so much of Bo, or just that there isn’t a ton THERE other than the stories.

When you mention Bo Jackson, the first thing that comes to mind is Techmo Bowl. Like many, TechmoBo is still the most dominant creature to ever be on a sports game, I’ve dunked on every player in the NBA, swatted away every player from MJ to CP3, and gone 19-0 on every NFL game I’ve ever sat down with. But I have NEVER held Bo Jackson to negative yards in a game. TechmoBo can just turn a game if you don’t watch him, and like the Great Jim Brown in real life, you have to bring friends with you when you come at him.

– The Documentary does talk of this, and even shows him running for a touchdown in the classic game, the best line saying, “Bo only has one play in the game, it would have been unfair to give him two. ” Techmo Bowl still lives on, and the glory that is Bo is still there. Everytime that there is a “cheat” character, I think of Bo. No matter who comes up in future NFL games, Bo is the standard. Devin Hester made news being the first player to get a 100 on Madden, I shudder to think what Bo Jackson would have gotten on the Madden Scale.

The next thing that comes to mind is the dual sport. The somewhat comparison to Deion Sanders is given, but I really don’t see the connection. I think almost any player with Deion’s speed could play CB and baseball, the better the eye the better the odds of doing well, but RB is a different animal, you have to have size and strength as well as speed to play that position. I (personally) think RB is the hardest position to play on Offense after the QB. I don’t think the dual sport caused his injury, the doc does a GREAT job breaking down how fluky the injury was. Dr James Andrews is on hand to explain how Bo being such a strong runner was the main reason his hip popped out, just an amazing story. I hope that if we ever get another Bo, modern medical science can find it so this doesn’t rob us of this kind of talent.

The two main things that the doc brings new is the childhood. As a person that has been bruised by a crabapple, I can tell you I have no desire to have a young Bo Jackson chucking them at me or my loved ones. The Doc does a great job of going to almost a cartoon in showing stories when going to physical feats that Bo preformed both real and imaginary. The story moves on to talk about both Alabama and Auburn recruiting Bo, and Bama fans I bet would be overjoyed to hear why they lost out on Bo Jackson. (They told him he wouldn’t play until his Junior year). They also talk about the Iron Bowl and the Leap he makes to win the game and send Bear Bryant home with a loss in his freshman year. The Doc does tend to skip around stories, watching the film you would think the leap took place the same year he won the Heisman and then got banned from the NCAA – things that bookended his Auburn career.the leap

The story of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ telling him of the NCAA’s allowing him to take a trip is told. Long story short, the Bucs take him on a trip to see their field and facilities, but (according to him) they never approved of the trip. He states that they wanted him banned by the NCAA so he couldn’t play baseball. I can see the point, considering he was hurt his junior year (not mentioned), but when you have already turned down a quarter to half million dollar contract to play baseball, depending on sources, I don’t think that baseball is going to be a threat. The Bucs move, naturally ticked off Jackson, who told the Bucs he would never play for them. Apparently thinking he was either stupid or bluffing, the Bucs chose him #1 overall, Jackson not being either, took the example of John Elway 3 years prior, and went to play baseball. No mention of the Bucs side is told, and to be honest I can see the Bucs doing this, but just seems a little underhanded for a guy that could be the face of the franchise. Considering the Elway situation, drafting him was just another stupid thing in a series for the Buc’s franchise.

Just for the heck of it, Bo Made 330/383/610 his first 3 years in baseball – In comparison, the following years number 1 overall pick, Vinny Testaverde signed a 6 year, 8.2M  deal.

Aside on the 1986 draft- There have been no Hall of Famers from that class- yet (Charles Haley and/or Pat Swilling might/should make it) the next two picks were Tony Castillias and Jim (don’t call me Chris) Everett. The next running back was Keith Byers taken 10th overall. The 1986 Draft was a stinker by the way- looking over those guys, only 9 of the 27 first round picks made the Pro-Bowl, ( back when that meant something) the 1996 draft, in comparison, had HALF the first round make the trip to Hawaii- and this is with Keyshawn Johnson as number 1. (No QBs in round one?)

Back to the feature, the baseball career is talked about, and how strong his arm and his bat was, his tendancy to strikeout is brought up later in the film in passing, and of course the film of him running up the wall is show, and the famous Harold Reynolds play is talked about for a good bit. George Brett gives quite a bit of information on Bo as a Royal.

Speaking of Hall of Famers, Howie Long is almost the only NFL player that talks of his career, kind of odd that Marcus Allen is not used- or any of the other former Raiders that crawl the ESPN campus on a regular basis. Again, his great runs are shown, but his Pro-Bowl trip is not mentioned until the end credit, where it is stated he is the only player to make the Pr0-bowl and All-star game. The Boz game is of course mentioned. This is -what? the third time he’s been brought up in a 30 for 30 doc? Does he not answer the phone? Is he going to get his own film?

The final act is shown of his comeback with the White Sox and the homerun in honor of his mother, truly touching and something that only happens in baseball (Emmitt Smith excepted).  His Angels career is not mentioned, and he does mention that his retirement was his choice.

His Nike campaign is mentioned, one mention is sales went up 700% with the Bo Knows campaign. Bo Jackson

Lets see:

Air Jordan I – 1985, 1986
Air Jordan II – 1986
Bo Knows campaign Starts – 1990

I’m gonna go ahead and call BS on that one.

Finally, his home life today is shown, with his love of archery and hunting. He makes mention that he can’t watch football for long.

This is a worshipful story of Bo Jackson. Barely anything negative is shown (notable exception being his lack of wanting to practice at Auburn)  and his high strikeout rate is  only mentioned in passing. His .250 career average and .472 slugging percentage is not mentioned at all. Bo was a physical marvel who maximized his gifts, the fact he barely worked out is also brought up, as is the fact that had he come out a decade later, Roids would have been chasing him on a daily basis. I have no reason to think he ever used anything, but like they repeat, different era. No one at the time think he was on anything, I want to make that clear to the younger readers.

Also, the NFL career is not really gone into, and the Auburn baseball career is barely mentioned, other than where balls he hit went. Why Davis allowed him to play part time is not gone into AT ALL.

If you only know Bo from the games, or the Modern Legend, this is well worth the watching, if you want to relive the greatness, like I did, this is great. But balanced? No. ESPN docs are becoming notorious for being as balanced as the major news networks, they only show the other side when obvious or necessary. 6, and much like Bo, could have been so much more.


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