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Kyler Murray Could Be This Generation’s Bo Jackson

The two-sport phenom is a Heisman candidate with a MLB contract.

It’s been more than 30 years since a player was even mentioned in the same breath as the great Bo Jackson, considered the greatest two sport athlete in history. Some will argue that Native American legend Jim Thorpe, who won Olympic gold medals in the decathlon and the pentathlon in 1912 and simultaneously played professional baseball and football was better. 

Maybe, but we saw Bo play. He was a modern-era Heisman winning running back for Auburn in 1985 and then starred in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. 

NFL Throwback on Twitter

He could run past you. He could run through you. @BoJackson was DIFFERENT. (@Raiders) https://t.co/OnG8J2919T

 

He was also was a feared slugger and dynamic outfielder for several MLB teams, including the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals.


1989 ASG: Bo Jackson hits leadoff homer in first

7/11/89: With former President Ronald Reagan sharing the booth with Vin Scully, Bo Jackson hits a home run to center field in the first Check out http://MLB.com/video for more!About MLB.com: Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations into an independent technology company.


 

Jackson, who hit 141 homers in eight partial seasons, is the only player to make an MLB All-Star team and an NFL All-Pro squad. He’s the standard and has remained that ever since his career was prematurely ended by fracturing his hip during an NFL game and changing the trajectory of his promising career.

Then, along came Kyler Murray, starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2018, who was slated to make $4.8 million dollars if he left football forever. Murray signed a $4.66 million deal in August, but also decided that baseball would have to wait a second while he fulfilled his dream of playing college QB.

CNN on Twitter

Here’s one way to get paid in American college athletics: Go professional in another sport. University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray did just that when he signed a $4.66 million deal with the Oakland Athletics. https://t.co/viBqeKIGTW


 

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Naturally, the Bo Jackson comparisons began and Murray isn’t hiding from the attention. He’s embracing the moment. 

SportsDayHS on Twitter

@TheKylerMurray is going to break the internet. @BoJackson 🏈⚾: https://t.co/LynKDn83QR #🅰️🆙 #BoomerSooner #KylerKnows


On Thursday, Murray shared a photo of him recreating one of the iconic Bo photos, flexing with a baseball bat while wearing his football shoulder pads. The photo preceded the launch of Oklahoma’s Heisman website for Murray, KylerKnows.com.

Many great athletes have tried, but none could duplicate the two-sport dominance that Jackson displayed as a running back and MLB power broker who hit tape measure bombs against some of baseball’s best hurlers. 

Murray has been one of the superstars of the 2018 college football season, leading Oklahoma’s explosive offense with his arm, legs and leadership. The dual-sport Don will surely be getting an invitation to New York City as a Heisman Trophy finalist, which will surely lead to NFL Draft interest and more tough decisions.

TampaBayTimesSports on Twitter

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray has closed the gap by passing Tua Tagovailoa in efficiency, yards per attempt and passing touchdowns. #Heisman @MBakerTBTimes @TB_Times @OU_Football @AlabamaFTBL @ClemsonFB @WVUfootball @WSUCougFB https://t.co/kWjYMTxx0Q

 

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Murray is in the Top 8 in the country in passing yards (3,038) and TD passes (32) and he is No. 1 in passing efficiency with a whopping 212.9 QB rating.



Meanwhile, he still has a pro baseball job with the Oakland A’s waiting for him after being drafted with the No.9 pick of the MLB Draft


Murray, who turned 21 in August, hit .296 (56-for-189) with 3 triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBI, a .398 on-base percentage, and a .556 slugging mark in 51 games with the University of Oklahoma during the 2018 season.

Despite his financial windfall as a Top-10 MLB player, he still desperately wanted to wear the Crimson and Cream and fulfill his destiny on the gridiron. He was willing to risk injury for one last shot at football glory. Now that he’s tasted it, relinquishing football altogether isn’t as inevitable as it was back in June.

This season was supposed to be closure for Murray. But football is so infectious and the position of quarterback is so addicting. It’s obvious that Kyler’s potential for a long-term, healthy, lucrative future in baseball is more realistic, but his passion for football is complicating what appeared to be a no-brainer decision.

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes II could have been a first-round MLB draft pick. After all, his dad was a pro pitcher for more than a decade. But Mahomes Jr. chose the incomparable lure of the gridiron. The rest is history.


Murray’s football skills are also probably a bit more polished than his baseball game. He’s an athletic marvel who hits right-handed with contact and power potential. He’s an impressive defensive outfielder as well, but it will take him some years to develop into a full-fledged MLB starter.

At the same time, his 5-11 height is probably more suited for baseball than playing QB in the NFL, but he’s been playing both sports his entire life and he’s a stone-cold killer and already a Texas sports legend.

Oakland Athletics 🌳🐘⚾️ on Twitter

Kyler’s first (BP) home run swing at the Coliseum looks a little something like this. #RootedInOakland https://t.co/iE2xw4AIHc

 

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Could he do both? It would be a colossal task. Playing the quarterback position in the NFL is a full-time gig. Deion Sanders was able to play cornerback and play outfield in the MLB, but his everyday responsibilities weren’t as burdensome as Jackson’s. To this day fans wonder what Bo would have accomplished had he stayed healthy. Or even dedicated his body and soul to one pro sport.


JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.