This Day in Sports History: Bo Jackson Drafted First Overall

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Multi-sport athlete Bo Jackson was announced as the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft 34 years ago today, despite his own wishes. 

On April 29, 1986, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jackson with the first overall pick after being told by the running back that he would not play for the team. Later that year, Jackson was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the fourth round of the MLB amateur draft and chose to sign a three-year, $1.07 million contract to play professional baseball. 

Jackson was turned off by the Buccaneers after owner Hugh Culverhouse told the Heisman Trophy winner he was cleared by the NCAA and SEC to take a visit on his private jet. The NCAA later told Jackson the trip had not been cleared and that he lost his remaining college baseball eligibility due to the violation. Jackson became upset with Culverhouse and insisted he would never play for Tampa Bay.

Jackson turned down a five-year, $7.6 million contract offer from the Buccaneers so his rights were forfeited by the franchise. That opened the door for the Raiders to draft Jackson in the seventh round of the 1987 NFL draft with pick No. 183. 

While Jackson was set on keeping his focus on baseball, he changed his mind when Raiders owner Al Davis stated that he would support Jackson's participation in both professional sports. Davis said Jackson would not have to report to the Raiders until his MLB season was over, even if he missed regular-season games. 

Jackson was attracted to the potential of playing in both MLB and the NFL and signed a five-year, $7.4 million contract with the Raiders. The deal was the largest for any non-quarterback player at the time and included $500,000 bonuses for signing and if he returned in 1988. 

In his rookie year with the Raiders, Jackson recorded 554 rushing yards on 81 carries and six total touchdowns in seven games played while also making the NFL All-Rookie Team. He played in 10 games the following year and recorded 580 rushing yards and three touchdowns. 

Jackson's best season in the NFL came in 1989, when he rushed for 950 yards in 11 games and recorded four touchdowns. In 1990, Jackson was selected to the Pro Bowl after rushing for 698 yards in 10 games and recording five touchdowns. 

On Jan. 13, 1991, Jackson's time in the NFL ended when he suffered a hip injury during a tackle. He finished his career with a total of 2,782 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, along with a Monday Night Football record of 221 yards from Nov. 30, 1987.

Jackson's Pro Bowl selection made him the only athlete in history to reach All-Star honors in multiple professional sports. Previously in 1989, Jackson was named to the MLB All-Star game and went on to win All-Star MVP since he hit a 448-foot home run, drove in the winning run and made key defensive plays. 

Jackson joined the Chicago White Sox after he was released by the Royals, ending his five-year stint with the team. He played just 23 games in 1991 due to issues with his hip and missed the 1992 season after undergoing hip replacement surgery. In his first at-bat upon returning, Jackson hit a home run and later won the 1993 American League Comeback Player of the Year Award. 

At age 32, Jackson announced his decision to retire from baseball. He played in just 75 games in his final year with the California Angels before the season was cut short due to a player strike. Jackson finished his eight-year MLB career with a .250 batting average, 141 home runs and 415 RBIs

Jackson completed his bachelor's degree in Family and Child Development at Auburn University. His No. 34 has been retired by the Auburn Tigers football program.