I'm glad to say that I've "known" Bo Jackson for over 25 years. Believe me- we're not having dinner together regularly, but from interviewing him back in the 1980's when he was at Auburn and then the Memphis Chicks, playing a few rounds of golf with him, and seeing him a few times a year when he makes it to our state (chatted with him last week as he introduced Gus Malzahn), we are at least on a first name basis. That's why I was excited to watch "You Don't Know Bo", the ESPN "30 For 30" film directed by the talented Michael Bonfiglio. While I can say I "know Bo", does anyone really know Bo? I was hoping Bonfiglio would give me insight into what makes the man. I came away dissapointed.
Producing a documentary film is no small feat. It takes access to your subject, time, patience and meticulous editing. The task here for Bonfiglio was not to illustrated what kind of an athlete Bo was in his prime (which he did very well). The task was for the director to get down to the core- to teach us about Bo, the person. On this front, Bonfiglio failed.
If you are like me, you never tire of seeing Bo's herculian feats: Bo Over The Top, running over Bosworth, the All-Star game homer, throwing out Harold Reynolds, breaking bats over his knees. While Bonfiglio superbly brought us those moments, I walked away from the film knowing nothing about Bo that I didn't already know- and that is why I think Bonfiglio failed.
How night have the director helped his film's cause? To get down to the bare roots of how Bo arrived, we needed to see more from his home town. Granted, Bonfiglio brought us interviews with Bo's high school football coach Dickie Atchison and baseball coach Terry Brasseale, but he needed to go further. How about many of Bo's teachers, HS teammates, childhood friends and opposing coaches. Dozens of stories could have been told- like when Bo competed in a decathlon event at Vestavia Hills HS and quit after about 6 events because he was so far ahead of everyone else he took the rest of the meet off. Were Pat Dye, Hal Baird and David Housel the only Auburn folks available? I think the Auburn family needed to be better represented in this film.
I also wondered as I watched the media people interviewed in this film, "Who are these guys?". It seemed to me as if Bonfiglio gathered his friends from Brooklyn and put them in the film. Jeremy Schaap? Mike Greenberg? What was their connection to Bo Jackson? Was Chris Berman not available? Why not LOCAL media folks who who know Bo? Jimmy Bryan, Bill Lumpkin, Ron Ingram, Clyde Bolton, Paul Finebaum, Ron Grillo, Herb Winches? They could have shed more light on who Bo really was than the folks from New York.
One more thing: To really know Bo, I needed to see and hear from his family members. Unless Bo nixed the idea, I would have loved to have heard from his wife (who he married coming out of Auburn and is still married to today), his three kids, all in their 20's, and current friends. Bo has always bragged about his cooking talents. Why not gather the family and see Bo do some grilling? How great would if have been to have received perspective on Bo from the people who live with him?
Bo Jackson was the greatest athete of my time- I am confident I will never see another like him. While Michael Bonfiglio did an admirable job reminding me what a great athlete Bo Jackson was, he did a poor job of showing me the man Bo Jackson is today.
The title of the "30 For 30" film is "You Don't Know Bo". It's a perfect title- because sadly, after watching the film, I still don't really know him.