The Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders Debate

The other day on Facebook my brother posted a status that asked which player was better: Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders? At first glance I was like, “Duh, Bo is the best athlete this universe has ever seen. Better than MJ. Better than Lebron. Better than Jim Thorpe. Better than Ghandi. Better than everyone.”

But then I got to thinking and sometimes, but only sometimes, I am wrong. So, I started fact checking. As I was fact checking, Deion started to look better than I first thought.

Could I be wrong? …..No. There was no way. Bo broke bats over his head and knee! Bo knows everything! More research had to be done.

And I did it. Cause I’m a bawse.

But how do we break it down? How do we figure out which was a better athlete, especially with the problem of Bo getting hurt part way through his career? I’m going to be breaking down their capabilities in a couple different posts so we can get a good idea of who was better.

The Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders Debate

Speed

Which one of these two dudes is the fastest? It’s kind of a silly question, but we have to answer it. The Universe demands it. Usually we like to judge a players speed by his 40 yard dash time. I think that the 40 yd dash is kind of silly for judging an entire players career speed because:

1. That time usually comes from their combine 40 yard dash, which is ran right after their college career. I would like to believe that working out with a professional team over a couple of years would actually increase their speed. Some players would take advantage of that and some wouldn’t. Players also bulk up when they get into the NFL, too. That obviously is going to have some impact on their speed. Did Deion or Bo get faster or slower after their speed tests at the combine?

2. Before 1999, those times were done by using a stopwatch. They weren’t electronically timed. This could obviously leave room for error. I ran multiple 40 yard dashes when I was in high school. Each one was done using stopwatch and each of those times varied from 4.2 to 4.6. How is someone going to get an accurate time with a stop watch? (Here is a link to an article explaining that nearly all high school 40-yard dash times are bogus).

Here is a video of sports analyst Rich Eisen running the 40 yard dash against NFL prospects, including one Timothy Tebow.

2010 NFL Draft Combine 40 Yard Dash Funnies

Deion Sanders 40-yard dash time at the combine in the year of our Lord 1989 was 4.27 seconds. Vincent Bo Jackson’s time in 1986 was 4.12 seconds. Something interesting is that the two have 100m track times that they ran in college: Bo – 10.39 and Deion – 10.21. And the purportedly fastest man in the NFL, Darrel Green, ran the 100m in 10.08 seconds while he was in college. To put that all that into context, Usain Bolt holds the world record for the 100m dash with a time of 9.58 seconds and Chris Johnson has the fastest 40-yard dash since 1999 (when they started using lasers) with a time of 4.24 seconds.

(Sidenote: 100m sprint times are started when the gun fires and 40 yard dash times are started on the runners first movement.)

I would like to add that Deion weighed 200 lbs while Bo weighed 230. This is significant.

Fast guys with their shirts off
Fast guys with their shirts off. Guess which one of these guys is a giant tool.

Of course a 40 yard dash time isn’t necessarily game speed. There aren’t a ton of videos on the internet showing Deion’s game speed, but there are a couple of highlight reels of him running around acting cool. Bo as well.

Here is Deion game speed:

Deion Sanders "The Best NFL DB Ever:

Here is Bo Jackson game speed:

Bo Jackson Various runs

Conclusion

We will never know who was faster. Too many weird variables. Too little hard facts.

But there is one more important question we need to answer: Does it matter if you are fast if when you catch up to Bo Jackson, he just tosses you to the ground? The following is a video of Deion Sanders describing that very moment (with video) on the Dan Patrick Show:

Bad Call – "My Bo Jackson Moment" by Deion Sanders

13 thoughts on “The Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders Debate”

  1. In my opinion having analyzed the world’s fastest men with extensive frame-by-frame video analysis, Deion Sanders is/was the fastest man in his ability to accelerate. Regardless of recorded times from various distance sprints, I believe Deion matched head to head with any other athlete wins the race anywhere within a 40 to 60 yards. He chased down Bo Jackson when they competed against one another in college and his stride rate & stride length appear to me to be superior in the acceleration phase to any other athlete I’ve studied on video. Deion Sanders’ arm action (and usage of hands) was unique and superior to other athletes. I believe this gave him a biomechanical advantage over others who did not optimize their running mechanics as completely as Deion – making full use of his arms on top of all the other attributes that made him so fast.

    1. Thank you for commenting. Deion was pretty damn fast. So was Bo. Their measured sprint speeds were pretty identical. Deion’s 100 was faster than Bo’s, but Bo’s 40 was supposedly faster. I’m wondering if either got much faster in the pros or not. I would probably give the edge to Deion if someone held a gun to my head. I hope nobody holds a gun to my head.

      1. Deion would easily catch bo from behind. Stop being measurized by the figure and understand physics. Bo was faster but it was hand held which could make between a .15 to.24 differential. Because how the human brain processes info, all those 80’s time were schewed. Bo is bigger so he would decelerate faster than deion. Hence he would be caught. Angle or no angle. So in a lo g Bo run of 70 yards plus he would get hawked by Primetime. Once again I don’t like deion but that’s the truth through my eyes.

    2. Well your “analysis” falls apart when you actually use that play where Deion “caught” bo because he already had an angle on him, and Bo was slowing down and avoiding tacklers. Not even close to being caught from behind and given the fact that bo was 230+ pounds it’s not that odd that he might lose stamina after 60+ yards of running and ramming people and eventually be caught up to.

  2. as far as top end speed deion. but explosive acceleration
    id give it to bo.win it comes to being an athlete bos outfield play and batting avarage where better + bo would brack deion over his head or knee like he did his bats.o yea do you remember win bo thru a baseball from the back of the outfield to home plate to strike a dude out look it up unreal.
    bo jackson best athlete EVER!

    1. Prime Time is the best corner back ever. Lawrence Taylor is best defensive player ever. Bo Jackson best athlete ever.

      1. Just look at film they play different sides of the ball. Deion shut down the entire side of the field some games. If u know football at who cares if can tackle! It’s half the field it’s like being in the red zone all the time! Watch the game no one caught Bo! Yes one guy after he ran to the left then across the field to the right 80 yards from LOS later he was caught at the 3. Looked like is slowed down or was tired. U can’t compare them. 100 meters D Green the fastest. But he did no weight 230lbs and lead the MLB in HR in KC when the ball wouldn’t go out the park unless ur man enough to put it there. My option only

        1. Deion had an angle on Bo in college and by no means ran him down from behind! Bo actually ran a 9.98 100m in 1983 in a meet at Auburn. I was at the meet. Bo was faster on a football field than anyone I’ve ever seen to this day. Add to the fact that he weighed over 230lbs at 6’1″ and he is a once in a lifetime athlete.

          1. I ran track at South Carolina in college. I was a sprinter and I saw both Deion and Bo run. I was surprised that Bo’s fastest time was only 10.39. I remember him being much faster but I have no proof.

  3. Well, if you guys want to talk fast then look at Stephen Davis. He ran the 100m in high school clocking 10.28 and that was at a weight of 225lbs.

  4. You are leaving out Bullet Bob Hayes, who was faster than either Bo or Deion. Jacoby Ford was a little faster than Hayes (.05 sec.), but if Hayes had a step when he caught a pass, forget it.

Talk to me, loser.