Bo Jackson: Would he have made that big a difference for Tampa?


Remember when Tampa drafted Bo Jackson in the 1986 NFL draft? Many say Tampa screwed up their chances with the two-sport star, but the fact is he rather had played baseball than football.

No surprise that Bo Jackson chose baseball over playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, baseball was his first love. Many speculated at first that Bo was dangling the idea of foregoing football for baseball just to get the Buccaneers to throw more money at him.

bo_jackson___hdr_by_oultre-d3e91b7That was not the case at all. “I want to play some ball.” just not football.

Jackson stuck with his heart and did something he wanted to do, something he truly loved to do, and that was to play the game of baseball. “I did it because it’s what I wanted to do. I’ve had my share of football. Not to brag, but I’ve got my trophy.”

Jackson went on to play baseball for the Royals and he made quite a bit less than he would have in signing with the Buccaneers. Tampa’s offer was reported to be somewhere in the “ballpark” of 4 years at $7 million which was not bad for a player in the 80’s. “Everyone of you said I was using baseball to raise the money from Tampa Bay. I proved all of you wrong. I did not become an instant millionaire.” But that didn’t stop Jackson from becoming one eventually.“I went with what is in my heart. My first love is baseball and it has always been a dream of mine to be a major league player. My goal now is to be the best baseball player Bo Jackson can be.”

Jackson had nothing but good things to say about the Buccaneers organization and stated that they treated him well and that he did not opt out of football to spite the Bucs.

Bo Jackson BuccaneersThe Bucs should have never drafted Bo Jackson he wanted to play baseball first. He simply chose baseball over football. In fact, Tampa still owned the rights to Bo Jackson’s NFL future until giving up the rights to him prior to the NFL draft in 1987, where if he chose to return, would be replaced into the draft to be selected by anyone. (And we all know how that turned out.) No one wanted to take a chance on him and the former number one overall stayed undrafted until late in the seventh round of the 1987 draft, where he was selected by the Los Angeles Raiders. And for those wondering if it would have been different for Tampa if Bo had played here, just remember James Wilder was coming off back to back 1,000 yards seasons and Bo really didn’t do much better in Los Angeles. Maybe we would have had 1 or two extra wins but it would not have been life changing for Tampa.


In my opinion, the Bucs Tampa should have never drafted Bo Jackson in the first place.

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Although, Bo Jackson was a household name in the late 80’s, early 90’s, and not just for baseball and football, but for his involvement in the popular NIKE advertisement “BO KNOWS” and as an anomaly in Tecmo Bowl the video game on the Nintendo Entertainment System that will forever be one of the most famous players in a football-themed video game, I’m not so sure he would have done anything for Tampa on the field. He would have only been an image.


Jackson went on to have incredible careers in the two sports he played, although his football career left much to be desired, in the four years he played he never broke 1,000 yards nor did he have over 5 rushing TD’s in any season. Yet, many comically stated that he could have been the answer for Tampa.

Bo Jackson

hqdefaultIronically enough, even though his sports careers were iconized, he never made it into either Hall of Fames. However, he is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Bo knows football and baseball, but apparently the Hall of Fame voters, don’t know “Diddley”