I've been hearing about "You Don't Know Bo: The Legend of Bo Jackson" since it first came out in 2012. As a fan of pretty much every episode of ESPN's "30 for 30" series I'd seen (and as a long-time, wide-eyed admirer of Bo Jackson's otherworldly athleticism), it definitely sounded like my cup of tea. Yet for some reason, I'd never seen it.
As of this week, that's all changed. Well, except for the "cup-o-tea" part, because it definitely was. Oh, and the "wide-eyed" part, except now my mind is even more blown than before. Bo wasn't just a once-in-a-generation athlete. He was one-of-a-kind. (The film opens with that famous quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” But with Bo, you're not really sure there is legend. It might actually all be fact.)
It's not an unequivocally great movie; too straight-forward, predictable, and traditionally-structured a documentary to rise above the genre trappings (and just a few too many ESPN talking heads to feel entirely detached from the marketing machine). But it's a great examination of an even greater story and of a great, great athlete. An athlete who radically and decisively altered the Business of Sports in our country and did it in a shockingly short amount of time. In fact, the documentary argues, it was the very shortness of his time in the spotlight that made him the one-of-a-kind athlete he was --a legendary athlete; a mythical athlete; an athlete who will never really be matched (neither in our memories nor in our imaginings of what could have been). There will never be another Bo.
What a fascinating guy he was. What a fascinating guy he is, actually. And that's the film's greatest strength (and greatest gift): the opportunity to spend an hour or two with a man who was not only an astonishing athlete, but one who remains an impressive and inspiring human being even to this day.
It's on NETFLIX INSTANT (along with a whole mess of "30 for 30" episodes). Enjoy!
A close look at two-sport athlete Bo Jackson and the creation of a legend. Even without winning a Super Bowl or World Series, Bo will forever be known as a cultural icon and one of the most famous athletes of all time. This film examines the truths and tall tales that surround Jackson, and how his seemingly impossible feats captured our collective imagination for an all-too-brief moment in time.