ESPN 30 for 30: You Don’t Know Bo (2012)

Directed by Michael Bonfiglio

Bo knows baseball. Bo knows football. Bo knows tennis? The Nike “Bo Knows” ad campaign was massively successful and helped raise an already mythical athlete to a whole other level, and with good reason. Vincent “Bo” Jackson was and is one of the most freakishly talented sportsmen in the last 100 year (I lack the first hand knowledge and history lacks the detailed records to make the claim that Jackson is the most freakish athlete who ever existed; though I suspect I would not be far off base if I made that claim.) So what was it about the man that made him so unique? Filmmaker Michael Bonfiglio investigates.

As a young man, all I know of Bo Jackson can be found on highlight reels. The advantage of that is the fact that Jackson made a career, as short as it was, out of filling up the highlight reel. Bonfiglio shows us the man by starting in his high school days, and right away you begin to form a bond with Jackson that comes from his upbringing and the way he carries himself. For as talented and great as he was, he remained a very humble one as well, thanks to his poor upbringing, and one in which he never knew his father.

As is often the case with this ESPN produced 30 for 30 series, the story presented is extremely one sided. Now, I personally do not have the knowledge to make the opposite argument, or even know if there is one, but I always have to remind myself that these presentations are made with one thing in mind: glorifying the subject. Perhaps this is the wrong approach to take, but ESPN is notorious for glorifying athletes past the point of tasteful examination. In many cases these fond memories are a great stroll down memory lane, and are warranted for the greatness of the subject, but the bias must also be acknowledged.

That being said, wow. Bo Jackson was a dynamite personality. As I have said previously, the dude was just a freak. The things could could do on a baseball field and on a football field were unrivaled by his contemporaries. Give Bonfiglio credit as well for at least touching on the fact that Bo Jackson could have been Bo Jackson only within his own era. Steroids are a black scar upon all sports in this day and age and create skeptics around all truly great accomplishments. Jackson, however, was one of those athletes that had God-given abilities that could never be denied.

My full confession which I must make to complete this review is that fact that I did not see the last few minutes of the film. This thanks to the fact that Johnny Manziel was still giving his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech at the beginning of my DVR recording. But really, the moral of that story is that I didn’t need to see the end of the film. I know how it ends. It ends with Bo Jackson, one of the most impressive sportsmen of not only his generation, but ever. It ends with him being quiet and humble. It ends in my marvel of his ability to play two sports professionally, and at such a high level. It started, and it most certainly ended, with the unbelievable.

*** – Very Good

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s