I just can’t do it. Bo Jackson‘s “knowledge” has been marketed and mythologized for decades, and gonging that popular phrase, again, would further dilute something that deserves to remain simple and sweet.
It’s hard enough for Jackson to be Jackson. The man was so captivating in the 80s and 90s that he became a cross-training abstraction; an impossibly perfect body, bound in our minds to his shoulder pads and baseball bat, until his body broke. Now he exists for most people as a frozen, unfulfilled hypothetical from 1991. But before that infamous Bengals game when the hip…man. If you don’t know, you better ask Google.
Now in his late 40s, Jackson still makes defensive linemen nervous. Last Saturday, Jackson joined Alex Brown, a legit star with the Chicago Bears, at Jackson’s Elite Sports training center â€” an immense facility in Lockport, Ill., where young Chicagoans work to run faster, jump higher, and dream bigger â€” to speak about training. Brown admitted having sweaty hands just sitting on stage next to the living legend, but he looked comfortable walking in Bo’s shoes â€” a fresh pair of Nike Trainer SC 2010s (more on these, later.)
After being introduced to the crowd of teen-aged athletes, who had just completed a special Nike SPARQ clinic and competition, Jackson took the kids to school: “Hit the books,” Jackson said. “That’s the No. 1 important thing in your life right now.” The host pressed Jackson to talk training, and what made him special as an athlete, and Jackson talked about the emphasis he put on his legs and lungs, which, even without weight-training, was enough to mold his once-in-a-generation genes. “I could run like a spooked deer, and I could throw a baseball like it was shot out of a rifle,” said Jackson.
Following the presentation, I sat down with Jackson to talk sneakers, training and comfort zones. Here’s Jackson on…
…the place of sneakers in his life as a kid growing up in Alabama:
“Sneakers in my life were a necessity â€” nobody wore sneakers back then for style,” Jackson said. “If you were lucky enough to get a good pair of sneakers that was just icing on the cake. Up until I got to college, all my sneakers were hand-me-downs.”
…the evolution of sneakers, courtesy of Nike’s focus on cross-training:
“It made training for whatever sport I was participating in a whole lot easier â€” you can’t train unless your feet are comfortable,” said Jackson, adding how important a good sole is for sprinters, who work largely on the balls of their feet.
…making today’s young athletes train in the sneakers he wore as a kid:
“They wouldn’t be able to train,” laughed Jackson. “I tell you what: Go and try to put on a pair of your girlfriend’s pumps, and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. If you don’t have comfort, it’s gonna be a miserable day.”
…stepping outside of your comfort zone:
In his speech last year to Auburn University’s class of 2009, Jackson pushed the new grads to test their boundaries â€” something he did frequently as a young man. “I had always been uncomfortable with diving in water,” Jackson remembered. “My freshman year, me and some buddies went up to the lake and to this rock, Chimney Rock, about 75 feet high. I went up halfway the first time, and it took me about ten minutes to jump off. Once I did that, which put me outside my comfort zone, l went up to the top and dove off that rock.
For those of you looking to step inside something comfortable (and, in this writer’s opinion, something damn sexy to look at) find yourself a pair of new Nike Trainer SC 2010s â€” the revival of one of the original cross-training shoes, the 1990 Nike Air Trainer SC High, which is one of the bestselling shoes in Nike’s history, and Jackson’s favorite sneaker. The redux comes in the colors we know and love, and is built for the dual-sport player in all of us. Keep an eye out for player exclusives, too.
What do you think? Are the Nike Air Trainer SC Highs worthy of G.O.A.T. status?
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