I built a section of the story I wrote on Bo Jackson around my memory of racing him before a football game when I was four years old. It was at the 1984 A-Day game, which I only learned after meeting David Rosenblatt, former curator for the Lovelace Athletic Museum.
Imagine this as your first Auburn memory (age 4): a person, a presence, a power, some all-powerful something is somewhere behind you. You know it’s there. But you can’t see it. People are cheering. You’re knocked to the ground. Millions of kids are running toward something called a touchdown and you realize that you’re not with them and that you will never catch up, you won’t get to participate in what you were told was a once in a lifetime event. He was among us and you missed him. You cry and your dad comes over and you look up and all you know is that it is now in front of you, out of sight, untouchable, but actually real, the winner before it started, something in orange and blue, something that defines your imagination more than He-Man, Luke Skywalker, or Santa Claus.
Something called Bo Jackson.
For years, I thought it was a dream.
“No, that actually happened, that’s real,” David Rosenblatt tells me. “My daughter raced against him, too.”
David told me there was a picture of the race. He was right. I found it at photographic services. Then I lost it. A couple of months ago, Paul Henson, a TWER reader, emailed me a scan of a clipping from The Birmingham News. It was the picture.
It can’t be — he’s too old, and yeah, I was on the ground crying somewhere along the 20 yard line — but I swear the kid in the hat furthest to the left looks just like me. I wore nothing but ringer tees back then and totally had a conductor’s hat like that.
Here’s how Pat Dye remembered the race when I interviewed him for the Bo story in October:
Me: I raced against him the at ‘84 A-Day game… or I kinda did.
Coach: Ya’ did?
Me: Yeah. I didn’t beat him.
Coach: I tell you what, that was a damn… well, you know what happened, did we put’em at the 10 or the 20 (yard line)? No, he was on the goal line, so they must have been on the 20 yard line then. But the cheerleaders lined up down the middle of the field to form an alley for Bo to run in. I started the race. On your mark, get set… and them damn chilluns took off. And when I said ‘go,’ Bo took off. Well, that alley lasted about two seconds. There was chilluns everywhere. That alley, I mean it evaporated. Well, Bo goes running down that field and he’s dodging chilluns the whole way. That’s probably the best run he’s ever made in his life. Dodging damn six years olds, going to the other end of the field, laughing the whole time. And he passed the last one at about the five-yard line.
Me: I didn’t know that. There’s a picture of it I found and there’s kids running and he’s got a grin on his face.
Coach: I asked a little ol ‘boy comin’ off the field, I said ‘did you beat Bo?’ His eyes were big as saucers. He said ‘No, but I almost did.’
Related: The Photos From The 1986 A-Day Game Will Bo Your Mind.
* Auburn grad in Auburn shirt leads ‘The Price Is Right’ audience in ‘War Eagle’, wins car
* Bo knows Jesus
* What legendary FSU AD John Bridgers had to do during practice when he played for Auburn in the early 40s
* The great Samford Tower Mickey Mouse clock caper of 1977
* Show Some Pigskin: An Illustrated Guide to Auburn’s Playboy All-Americans
* A complete set of 1988 Phil Neel’s Auburn pinback buttons
* Cam Newton on the cover of GQ
* Pat Dye would have killed Jerry Sandusky
* Auburn-educated astronaut wanted ‘War Eagle’ to be first words on the moon
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Let’s just say it is you, make a Photoshopped painting of it and call it “The Day Jeremy and Six Other Kids Beat the Great Bo Jackson.”
People don’t need to know where the finish line was.
I say we make 34 copies, authenticity certified.
That was a great read! It must have really been something to see. I wish there were video. WDE.
To me, Bo transcends sports. He’s all that’s good about the universe.
God I love Bo Jackson.
I wish this kind of stuff would get spread around by ESPN and other media types. It’s refreshing not reading an article with an angle.
Top left of this picture is me a 7 year old. I remember racing Bo and he smoked us. Wow that is a cool picture.
This story makes me smile 🙂
I was at that ADay game. However, as a 14-year-old, I was too old to race. You got lucky, Bo.
I raced him that day also. i fell down at the very beginning of the race and skinned my knee up. so i cried, went to my dad, and then they called me back on the field to talk to Bo. i hardly remember it, but my dad went as well. it is still one of his favorite Auburn stories to tell.
OMG! War Eagle! I have told the story about when my brother and I got to race him that day, so many times! Wow! I cannot believe I found the story! I would have been 12 and my brother 10. It is THE MOST FOND memory of A-Day games that I have and they were all great.
We all had a HUGE head start and I remember thinking they just didn’t know how fast some of us were (and I was very fast as a kid)…and it wasn’t long before he was SMOKING US!!! I am so excited to see this! WOuld love to see other pics from that day. 🙂 Ashley (AU class of 1994)
will hoke says
Thats me at the back of the pic, two kids behind Bo, ill never forget that day especially when all I saw as Bo steam rolled past me was a white shirt and black arms going at wapr speed. One of the best memories a six year old AU fan could ever have…
Andy Sistrunk says
I’m sure some others have claimed this, but I am the kid in the conductor hat. I have shown this picture to my parents several times and they have confirmed. I wore that damn hat everywhere. I knew Bo, because David Housel was our next door neighbor and my dad was in student affairs. He tackled me in the endzone, after running backward and waving at me. I will never forget that day!