PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL PLAYER, PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER
Bo Jackson is one of the most heralded athletes in the history of American sport. Jackson was a successful collegiate sprinter at Auburn University, prior to embarking upon two successful sporting careers, the first as a highly regarded outfielder and slugger in major league baseball, the second as a devastating running back in the National Football League (NFL). Jackson's ability to continue with his professional sports career after undergoing hip replacement surgery is a remarkable feature of his athletic legacy.
Jackson had a remarkable physique that was well suited to both baseball and football. At 6 ft 1 in tall (1.8 m) and 230 lb (110 kg), Jackson possessed both brute strength and remarkable speed and balance. Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 1985, awarded to the best player in American college football.
As remarkable as any of the many highlights of Jackson's professional sports career is the injury that he sustained in 1991 while playing football with the Oakland Raiders of the NFL. Jackson sustained damage to his hip when he was tackled hard by an opposing player. The injury subsequently resulted in a condition known as avascular necrosis (AVN). AVN is caused where a bone sustains either a temporary or a permanent loss of its normal blood supply. When the blood supply is interrupted, the bone tissue will die and the bone will collapse. AVN most commonly occurs at the epiphysis, the region located at the end of the long bones of the body. In Jackson's case, the AVN occurred at the head of the femur, where the femur meets the pelvis to create the hip joint.
As a result of AVN, Jackson was required to undergo a arthroplasty of the hip, otherwise known as a hip replacement. The nature of the hip replacement and the fact that significant physical contact such as that sustained in football meant that Jackson would not play in the NFL again. Jackson spent the entire 1992 year engaged in various forms of physical rehabilitation.
In a noteworthy comeback, Jackson returned to major league baseball in 1993. He did not possess the same speed that had been a signature of his athletic prowess prior to his injury. Jackson ultimately retired from baseball after the 1994 season. Although he could not play to the standard that had made him feared in two sports, the fact that Jackson could return to professional sports at all after undergoing a hip replacement is a significant achievement, one unique in North American professional sports.