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Picking the GOAT in any sport is always a challenge. It’s always a debate, but there’s never a true answer. The same goes for picking the best two-sport athlete. The best two-sport stars in recent years are, without question, Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Both played at high levels in the NFL and in the MLB, but which of the two was the better two-sport athlete?

Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders are two of the greatest ever

Running back Bo Jackson of the Los Angeles Raiders carries the ball against the Denver Broncos on Dec. 3, 1989, during an NFL game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images.

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 & field athlete. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1985 after rushing for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Jackson with the No. 1 pick in the 1986 NFL Draft, but he refused to play for them. He believed the Bucs lied to him about a visit that violated NCAA rules and forced him to miss the rest of his college baseball season. Jackson warned Tampa not to draft him, but the Bucs didn’t listen.

Instead, he opted to play Major League Baseball for the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals. The Royals selected Jackson in the fourth round of the 1986 amateur draft. The Los Angeles Raiders then took a shot in the 1987 NFL Draft, selecting him in the seventh round, and he decided to play both sports.

Deion Sanders was a hot-shot prospect in both baseball and football. Originally drafted by the Royals in the sixth round of the 1985 draft, Sanders didn’t sign with them and attended Florida State, where he, like Jackson, played football, baseball, and ran track.

The New York Yankees drafted him in the 30th round in 1988, and he signed with them. The Atlanta Falcons made him the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, and he split time between football and baseball.

Bo or Deion: Who was the better two-sport star?


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“Prime Time” Sanders had a much longer career, playing 14 seasons in the NFL and winning a pair of Super Bowls. In baseball, he played nine seasons of Major League Baseball. He had far more success in the NFL, making eight Pro Bowls and earning Defensive Player of the Year in 1994. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

Jackson played just four years in the NFL before suffering a career-ending hip injury. A powerful running back, Jackson was a rare mix of speed and power. He had the quickness to run past you and the strength to run over you. He made the Pro Bowl in 1990.

In baseball, he played eight seasons and was the MVP in the lone All-Star Game he played. Jackson is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major North American sports.

While the numbers might point to Sanders as the better two-sport star, Jackson’s power might be the difference. While we didn’t get to see as much Bo as we saw Deion, Jackson had more jaw-dropping ability.

During an interview with Dan Patrick, Sanders once said he believes Jackson is the best athlete ever.

“If it weren’t for Bo, there would be no Prime,” Sanders told Patrick. “So let’s start with Bo.”

Patrick then asked if Jackson is the best athlete.

“I believe so,” Sanders said.