Bo Jackson Thinks He’d Average 350-400 Yards Per Game Today

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Former NFL and MLB All-Star Bo Jackson may be a timeless legend of sports, but he went full old man on Deion Sanders’ 21st & Prime podcast when discussing how he would fare today.

“Nobody wraps up and tackles no more,” Jackson said. “With me being a ball carrier, my coach taught us, number one, I know you can run, but I’m gonna teach you how to carry that football. That football is like your newborn baby. Don’t ever put it on the ground, and keep it away from the enemy.”

So far it sounds like a critique of Dallas Cowboys running back Zeke Elliot, who can’t seem to hang onto the football these days.

He talks about ball security like players today haven’t been taught the same fundamentals. We appreciate his old school mentality, but only Boomers pretend that young people don’t know the basics of their sport.

“It’s like this — and I watch technique — I don’t see anybody hitting or wrapping up. Everybody’s running into each other and trying to use their shoulder pads to knock the ball carrier down. And I’m like, if I played during this era, man, I’d be averaging 350-400 yard a game because no body wraps up anymore. They run into each other with their pads,” Jackson said.

There’s a lot to unpack here, none of it good for Bo. First off, he claims he “doesn’t see anybody hitting anymore,” which implies the game’s physicality isn’t what it once was. If you watch four quarters of Derrick Henry and still think that guys aren’t hitting, you aren’t really paying attention. At 6’1″ 230 pounds, Bo Jackson used to tower over his competition, but this physique has become the status quo. Linebackers and defensive ends in the NFL today can match any level of athleticism coming out the backfield.

Jackson also implies that running backs aren’t as skilled as they once were. The reality is that RBs are as good as ever, but the rest of the field has now caught up. In his best season in the NFL, Bo Jackson ran for 950 yards but he didn’t have linebackers who could keep pace. We now regularly see 4.45s from linebackers and safeties bigger than Bo himself. When players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before, hitting is happening whether we want to acknowledge that fact or not.

What’s his real problem?

The real issue is that the Baby Boomer generation doesn’t want to give today’s crop of running backs their due. Comparison is a killjoy, sparking a debate that cannot be resolved. Michael Jordan’s agent Michael Falk claimed that the former Bulls star would average 50-60 points in the NBA today. The only people agreeing with these type of statements are those that think with their hearts. Falk and Bo would be much better off simply enjoying the success they saw in prior eras and leaving the jealousy at home with their hearing aids and fiber supplements.

It can’t be easy for stars like Bo Jackson to watch others surpass their achievements in the sports world, but that’s the way sports work. Just because we’re raving about current running backs like Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten the greatness of those who preceded them. We already know you would be amazing if you played in the league today, Bo. Don’t hate on the new guys just because it’s no longer your turn to shine.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr


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  1. Since you brought up generational differences, here we go. Your didactic Millenial viewpoint, while overbearing, is interesting. But your continual and unconscious recency bias is rearing its ugly head again. If you put Bo into today’s training, nutrition and “supplement” improvements, Bo’s performance would be even greater than it was in the 80’s. Looking at Derrick Henry, he is a freight train that takes time to get going. Bo was a freight train with much greater acceleration. Bo wins. FYI, I’m a Gen Y’er.

      • Sorry Gary, Anton takes this point. Humans haven’t evolved, the training and recovery protocols have. Advantage: Bo.

        But, players don’t tackle anymore because they do not want to get penalized. So, we do not really know how great/not great defenses are versus Bo’s time, because they are not allowed to be great. Advantage: Gary. I think. Or Derrick Henry? Who knows, it is a tenuous point at best.

        Gen X schooling all you youngsters.

  2. Ever thought about the fact that Bo Jackson playing today would “also” be training with the same improved approaches that made all these current linebackers and DEs you referenced bigger, faster, and stronger? Bo was and is the single greatest athlete to ever play football. Now take that and add today’s training. He’d destroy the league. Now Bo would be 250, running a 4.2.
    This argument that today’s players are bigger, faster, stronger now than old players cracks me up. That argument goes two ways. The old era players were great WITHOUT all the advanced weight training, speed training, nutrition, recovery, medical aid and MONEY that today’s players enjoy. How about if today’s players had to play back then with the old ways of doing things? They probably would quit after spring practices. Today’s players are born in far more advanced and privileged circumstances.

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