Bo Jackson, the world’s greatest living athlete, and the only man to be an All-Star in baseball and a Pro Bowler in football, now has a confession to make.
If Bo knew back in his playing days what he knows now:
Bo never would have won a Heisman Trophy at Auburn. Bo never would have been inducted into the college football Hall of Fame. Bo never would have worn a Los Angeles Raiders uniform. Bo never would have trampled Brian Bosworth on Monday Night Football. And Bo never would have suffered the dislocated left hip that ended his football career.
“If I knew back then what I know now,’’ Jackson tells USA TODAY Sports, “I would have never played football. Never. I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn’t tell anybody.
“The game has gotten so violent, so rough. We’re so much more educated on this CTE stuff (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), there’s no way I would ever allow my kids to play football today.
“Even though I love the sport, I’d smack them in the mouth if they said they wanted to play football.
“I’d tell them, 'Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’ ’’
Jackson was leery of the game's exploitative tendencies when he came out of Auburn - a suspicion that he says played a significant role in his shunning of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - and that, in concert with greater knowledge of head injuries and their effect on deceased stars such as Junior Seau,forced a greater re-examination of the sport.
And without football, there's no telling what Jackson might have accomplished in his other sport.
Jackson, 54, who will be honored Saturday evening with the Scouts Dream Award at the 14th annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation banquet in Beverly Hills, knows that football truncated his career, but he has no bitterness.
If he had just stuck to baseball, perhaps he and George Brett - who will present him with his award - would not only have been former Kansas City Royals’ teammates but also fellow Hall of Famers.
If he had played baseball only, perhaps every Mike Trout and Bryce Harper that comes along would be compared to Bo Jackson.
“You know what,’’ Jackson says, “I still wouldn’t change a thing. The man upstairs had a plan of the way of working things out, and they did.
“I have no regrets.’’