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The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson

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New York Times Bestseller • The ultimate gift for sports lovers

By the author of Showtime—the source for HBO’s Winning Time—the definitive biography of mythic multi-sport star Bo Jackson.

“A legendary tome on a legendary athlete." —Chris Herring, author of Blood in the Garden

From the mid-1980s into the early 1990s, the greatest athlete of all time streaked across American sports and popular culture. Stadiums struggled to contain him. Clocks failed to capture his speed. His strength was legendary. His power unmatched. Video game makers turned him into an invincible character—and they were dead-on. He climbed (and walked across) walls, splintered baseball bats over his knee, turned oncoming tacklers into ground meat. He became the first person to simultaneously star in two major professional sports, and overtook Michael Jordan as America’s most recognizable pitchman. He was on our televisions, in our magazines, plastered across billboards. He was half man, half myth.

Then, almost overnight, he was gone.

He was Bo Jackson.

Drawing on an astonishing 720 original interviews, New York Times bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman captures as never before the elusive truth about Jackson, Auburn University’s transcendent Heisman Trophy winner, superstar of both the NFL and Major League Baseball and ubiquitous “Bo Knows” Nike pitchman. Did Bo really jump over a parked Volkswagen? (Yes.) Did he actually run a 4.13 40? (Yes.) During the 1991 flight that nearly killed every member of the Chicago White Sox, was he in the cockpit trying to help? (Oddly, yes. Or no. Or … maybe.)

Bo Jackson isn’t Jim Thorpe.

He’s not Deion Sanders, either.

No, Bo Jackson is Paul Bunyan.

The Last Folk Hero is the true tale of Bo Jackson that only “master storyteller” ( Jeff Pearlman could tell.

ISBN-13: 9780358437673

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 10-25-2022

Pages: 496

Product Dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

JEFF PEARLMAN is the New York Times best-selling author of eight books, including Football for a Buck,The Bad Guys Won!, Boys Will Be Boys, Showtime, Sweetness, and Gunslinger. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Catherine, and children, Casey and Emmett. He is the host of the Two Writers Slinging Yang podcast and blogs regularly at

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 "The Little Rock Chucker" 7

Chapter 2 A Black Bruce Jenner 21

Chapter 3 Emergence 35

Chapter 4 Don't Mess with Bo Jackson 48

Chapter 5 The Epitome of Superman 63

Chapter 6 Village on the Plain 78

Chapter 7 Bus Station 98

Chapter 8 Off Base 112

Chapter 9 Greg Pratt 126

Chapter 10 Paydays 147

Chapter 11 A Baird Man 165

Chapter 12 Senioritis 179

Chapter 13 Clutter 197

Chapter 14 Bucked Up 209

Chapter 15 Memphis 226

Chapter 16 Royal 240

Chapter 17 Mixed Royalties 252

Chapter 18 The Different Running Back 270

Chapter 19 Monday Night 282

Chapter 20 Icon 291

Chapter 21 The Greatest Year I 304

Chapter 22 The Greatest Year II 320

Chapter 23 Prime Time 329

Chapter 24 Hip 345

Chapter 25 Reduced 358

Chapter 26 The Return 377

Chapter 27 A Hog's Heart on a Fence Post 393

Chapter 28 The Circus Act 410

Chapter 29 Aftermath 422

Acknowledgments 431

A Note About Sourcing 435

Notes 437

Bibliography 461

Index 465