Throughout history, there have been athletes who have played multiple professional sports. Some have gone on to have success in the different sports they participated in. Growing up, many athletes played various sports as a kid up to college to stay active.
Two former athletes who are arguably the best athletes of all-time are Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson. Both athletes played in the MLB and the NFL for multiple seasons and were able to have success in both sports. So, between Sanders and Jackson, who was the better two-sport athlete?
Bo Jackson’s career
Bo Jackson was an exceptional athlete, even before playing professionally. At Auburn, he dominated on the football field and the baseball diamond and was a star track and field athlete. He won the Heisman trophy in 1985, given to the best football player in college. He played running back in football and was an outfielder in baseball. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
Jackson’s NFL career started in 1987, playing for the Los Angeles Raiders. He only played four seasons in the NFL, all with the Raiders. He suffered a career-ending injury during a playoff game on January 13, 1991, against the Bengals. During the 1989 season, he was selected for the Pro Bowl. In just four NFL seasons, he finished rushing for 2,7852 yards with 16 touchdowns, and he had 40 receptions for 352 yards and caught two touchdown passes.
Now Jackson had a longer career in baseball. He played eight seasons in the MLB for three different teams. His career started in 1986 when the defending MLB champions, Kansas City Royals drafted him in the fourth round. He made the Royals’ roster in 1987 and hit 22 home runs, with 53 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as a left fielder.
He spent most of his baseball career playing with the Royals, and in 1989 he played in the All-Star game. That year he finished with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs, the most in his career. Jackson also spent time playing with the Chicago White Sox and finished his career with the California Angels in 1994. Jackson ended with a career batting average of .250 with 141 home runs, 415 RBIs, and 82 stolen bases.
Deion Sanders’ career
Some know him by the name, “Primetime” because of his playmaking abilities. Sanders was electric playing in the NFL and the MLB. Sanders began his MLB career in 1988 when the New York Yankees drafted him in the 30th round. He would make his debut with the Yankees in May of 1989.
He would go on to play nine seasons in the MLB part-time, and then when it was time for football, he would get ready for the NFL. Other than the Yankees, Sanders played for the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, and the San Francisco Giants. He played in the 1992 World Series with the Atlanta Braves and hit .533 with four runs, eight hits, two doubles, and an RBI. 1992 also was one of his top seasons statistically. That season he hit .304 with 15 triples and 26 stolen bases. Sanders took a few years off from baseball in 1996, 1998, and 1999 and his last season playing baseball was in 2001 with the Reds.
Sanders had a longer career in the NFL, playing 14 seasons for five different teams. The defensive back/return specialist had more success in the NFL. Sanders was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times during his career, he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 1994 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
He also is a two-time Super Bowl winner with the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. Sanders was one of the top defensive backs during his time in the league. His speed and physical strength are what helped him stand out in the league. He finished his football career playing in 188 games with 493 total tackles and 53 interceptions as a defensive back. As a returner, he finished with nine total touchdowns.
Who’s the better two-sport athlete?
Bo Jackson is the only player to be named to the Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star team, and Sanders is the only player to play in a Super Bowl and World Series. Looking at the numbers, Sanders had a longer career in both sports and has more accolades. If Jackson didn’t have that knee injury, who knows how long his NFL career could have been?
With Sanders being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and having an impressive performance when he played in the World Series, he’s the favorite over Jackson. Sanders just had a longer career and didn’t deal with injuries that cut his career short. Both athletes will go down as the best two-sport athletes ever.