Former Pro Bowler Bo Jackson Marks His Return to the Virtual World by Gracing the Cover of ‘Madden’ Despite Brief NFL Career: ‘I Did Something Right’

Bo Jackson is widely known as one of the greatest athletes of all time, regardless of sport. After spending eight seasons playing baseball in the MLB and four seasons in the NFL, Jackson became a fascinating figure in the sports world. His legend grew even further thanks to video games. Madden creators recently tapped the dual-sport athlete for a special edition of Madden NFL 22.

Bo Jackson was a superstar on ‘Tecmo Bowl’

Former NFL running back Bo Jackson warming up before a game
Los Angeles Raiders running Bo Jackson looks on before a game at the Coliseum | George Rose/Getty Images

Bo Jackson first entered the virtual gaming space via a game called Tecmo Bowl. Tecmo originally released it as an arcade game, but it later introduced the game through the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989.

The video game was one of a kind, as it was the first to feature actual NFL players, thanks to licensing.

Tecmo Bowl featured 12 NFL teams, six each from the AFC and NFC. Among the teams included were the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Los Angeles Raiders.

With the Raiders being such a polarizing franchise, naturally, Bo Jackson was a guy people enjoyed using in the game.

Tecmo Super Bowl released in 1991 and further expanded the brand. Given Jackson’s unique athletic gifts, he was virtually unstoppable in either version of the game.

Jackson became a megastar, and Nintendo took advantage of it. The brand released Bo Jackson’s Hit and Run and Bo Jackson Baseball for Game Boy and the Nintendo Entertainment System, respectively.

Over the years, Bo Jackson became a video game icon.

Madden tapped Jackson for a special edition cover

Bo Jackson played just four seasons in the NFL, so he never appeared in the Madden video game series during his playing career.

Football fans worldwide rejoiced when the creators added the former Raiders star to Madden NFL 15‘s popular Ultimate Team feature.

EA Sports is bringing him back in a different capacity this time around. The brand announced that Jackson would be a cover athlete for Madden NFL 22.

The supremely talented running back will be available in Ultimate Team, The Yard, and Superstar KO in the game.

In a nice touch, EA Sports teamed up with Nike to bring back the Bo Knows campaign. They are introducing Jackson’s signature shoe, the Nike Air Bo Turf, into the video game, per The Undefeated.

Jackson revealed that his team and the Madden creators had been talking about a partnership over the years, but it was all about timing for him.

“I figured that, somewhere in my past, I did something right in order to still be looked at as one of the iconic athletes from over 30 years ago,” said Jackson. “Madden still thinks enough of me to do something like this.”

The former Raiders RB left a lasting impact despite short NFL career


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When discussing the greatest all-around athletes of all time, you have to mention Bo Jackson near the top of that list.

Jackson put up insane numbers on the football field at Auburn. He gashed his opponents for 1,786 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior en route to winning the 1985 Heisman Trophy.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Jackson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft. He refused to play for them after a snafu before the draft.

He opted to play for the MLB’s Kansas City Royals, who drafted him in the fourth round. Al Davis and the LA Raiders successfully poached Jackson and brought him back to the NFL in 1987. Jackson had become a two-sport athlete at the professional level.

Big names like Michael Jordan and Deion Sanders did it, but Jackson was elite at baseball and football at one time or another. He’s the only player ever to be named to the MLB All-Star Game and the Pro Bowl.

Jackson played in the NFL from 1987 to 1990. His promising career was cut short by a hip injury, which forced him to retire from football. He went on to play three more seasons in the MLB before retiring in 1994.

Bo Jackson’s impact on sports, in general, is undeniable.

When he saw himself on the cover of Madden NFL 22, he thought to himself, “Man, you still got it.”

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.