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Bo knows video games

10/20/2003

Bo Jackson has never played himself in Tecmo or Tecmo Super Bowl, but he knows how good he is in the games.

"Every autograph signing I do, someone always comes up to me with Tecmo Bowl and asks me to sign it," said Jackson, who was named the greatest sports video game athlete by ESPN Gamer.

It's arguable whether Jackson, who won the Heisman Trophy while at Auburn in 1985, even deserved to be that good.

Throughout his four NFL seasons, from 1987-1990, Jackson played 38 games and never finished in the top 10 in any offensive category. He only made the Pro Bowl once -- in 1990, after the original Tecmo Bowl debuted with a generic player on the cover.

Although he never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season, some gamers have claimed that the video game version of Jackson racked up 1,000 yards in a single game.

"I can't really tell you if the game portrayed me in an accurate light, since I've never actually seen myself in it," Jackson said. "I guess the only way to find out is to ask my opponents on the real field."

Who knows? Maybe Brian Bosworth was the athlete consultant on the game.

The mystique surrounding Jackson was partly due to the fact that he was the first athlete to play in the all star games in two major professional sports leagues, but also because of the "Bo Knows" Nike campaign, which debuted 15 years ago.

"Nike really introduced me to the world and I am forever grateful," said Jackson, who was the subject of more than 10 books in 1989 and 1990 alone, including Dick Schaap's "Bo Knows Bo."

Despite winning MVP in the 1989 All-Star Game, Jackson's baseball statistics were not all that spectacular, either.

Throughout his eight major league seasons, Jackson played for the Kansas Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels. He batted .250 and smacked 141 home runs.

But that didn't stop Jackson from being the star in two other video games -- Bo Jackson's Baseball and Bo Jackson Hit and Run.

Today, Jackson's signature is one of the most highly coveted in the sports collectibles world. Jackson, who has an exclusive autograph deal with Tri-Star Productions, has long lines of people waiting to get his signature -- for $89 a pop- - when he appears at shows. That's one of the reasons why Russell Athletic recently put recreations of Jackson's Auburn jersey on the shelves.

But one thing is for sure, when it comes to sports video games, Bo's signature move is priceless.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn3.com.