Two-sport star Bo Jackson: Oklahoma's Kyler Murray should 'follow his heart'

Two-sport star Bo Jackson: Oklahoma's Kyler Murray should 'follow his heart'
Video kyler murray vs bo jackson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — These days, Bo Jackson doesn’t watch much football or baseball. At age 56, he says, he is more likely to know the leader at Torrey Pines than the NFL standings. When asked his thoughts on the breakout season of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he said he knew Mahomes quarterbacked the Chiefs and had an “outstanding” year.

“I’m a horrible spectator,” he said.

Jackson, the former two-sport icon, always loved competing more than consuming. Yet as he made a public appearance at Royals FanFest in downtown Kansas City on Friday, he did admit to knowing a little about Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, the two-sport star of this moment. And, yes, there was a good reason for this.

“I know he’s the kid from Oklahoma who won the Heisman Trophy,” Jackson said. “Because I voted for him.”

Murray, of course, must choose between a baseball career with the Oakland A’s and an opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL. It seems as if everyone has an opinion on the subject.

It has been more than 30 years since Jackson won a Heisman Trophy of his own at Auburn and faced his own baseball/football decision. Yet as Jackson reflects on a career that took him to Major League Baseball and the NFL before a career-ending football injury, he knows one thing: He would never tell Murray what to do.

“I would not give him advice,” Jackson said. “I followed my heart and my mind. And he has to the do the same thing.”

Bo Jackson said he would not give Kyler Murray advice on the baseball-football decision: “I followed my heart and my mind,” Bo said. “And he has to do the same.”

— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) January 25, 2019

Jackson’s heart, of course, told him to play baseball before expanding his range to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987. He spent five seasons with the Royals, hitting 109 homers and making an All-Star Game in 1989. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry in four seasons with the Raiders. The “Bo Knows” advertising campaign made him an international celebrity and heralded a new kind of superstar.

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Yet over the years, Jackson has, at times, expressed second thoughts. His dalliance with football led to a hip injury that altered two careers. He has now learned of the long-term injury risks associated with football and concussions. In 2017, he told USA Today that he wished he would have focused on baseball.

“If I knew back then what I know now,” Jackson said, “I would have never played football. Never.”

Jackson was a force in both sports, so good that it’s easy to wonder what would have happened had he just picked one. Yet as he spoke to reporters on Friday, he said it would be more difficult to play two sports today.

“One-hundred percent,” he said. “The athletic pool is so rich and deep with talent (that) it’s not funny. It’s ridiculous how talented the kids are. If you try to be great in both sports, you’ll end up being mediocre in both. (You’ll) probably end up second-string in both.

“And (I’m) not saying that I was better than somebody else. But at the time that I came up, the baseball team didn’t look like a (football) team going to a Super Bowl. All the baseball players now are anywhere from 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds. They all look like linebackers. The talent pool is rich and deep.”

These days, Jackson lives outside Chicago, where he spent two baseball seasons with the White Sox. He prefers a life outside the limelight. He rarely watches sports on television. He tolerates interviews but mostly eschews them. On Friday, he said his favorite day in baseball was when he got himself thrown out of game so he could go spend time in the hospital with his wife and newborn child.

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In recent years, Jackson has reconnected with the Royals’ franchise, the place his career began. The relationship was forged through legendary scout Art Stewart. It led to a visit to Royals fantasy camp and appearances at events like FanFest. On Friday, he spent part of his day telling old stories to fans and speaking to the club’s latest draft class.

A picture is worth a thousand words and the advice this man just shared with the @Royals 2019 Orientation Class was priceless! #BoKnows

— Kansas City Royals Player Development (@RoyalsPD) January 25, 2019

In truth, Jackson has little opinion on the life or decision of Kyler Murray, who must choose between the A’s or the NFL. Well, that’s not totally accurate. Jackson believes that his opinion does not matter, that it should not matter, that the only thing that matters is Murray and what he wants in life. Three decades ago, Jackson chose baseball, and then he tried both. He followed his heart, and he followed his mind, and that was the only thing that mattered.

“Like I said,” Jackson said, “the young man (should) follow his heart.”