One of the few people on the planet who can truly understand the athlete portion of the Jameis Winston phenomenon is Bo Jackson.
Jackson was a two-sport star at Auburn before playing both football and baseball professionally. Winston appears to be headed down that same path, splitting his time this spring between the reigning BCS champ Florida State football team and the top-ranked Seminole baseball team.
Add in the fact that both won Heismans and both were born in Bessemer, Ala., and it’s reasonable for people to connect the dots between the two. In that vein, Jackson, who was in attendance at the Tigers’ spring game over the weekend, was asked what advice he would give the FSU quarterback regarding the two-sport challenge both have tackled.
“People tried to tell me ‘Well, he shouldn’t do this,’ and it wouldn’t be right for me to say what he should do or shouldn’t do,” Jackson said according to al.com‘s Brandon Marcello. “I think he should follow his heart. He should experience success or failure on his own. I think he’s man enough to do that and admit either way.
“I just wish him luck. He’s from my hometown, so he’s a homeboy. I wish him luck.”
Jackson does, though, offer a word of warning amidst the encouragement.
When Bo was doing his two-sport thing, he was a running back in football and an outfielder in the stick-and-ball game. Winston, on the other hand, is a quarterback and, along with being a designated hitter, a relief pitcher. With so much reliance placed on his arm, Winston may have to look elsewhere position-wise if he wants to try both sports professionally.
“If he thinks he can do it, then so be it — on the college level,” Jackson said. “But trying to take it to the next level, it’s going to be a little difficult because the talent pool on both sides. Plus he’s going to make his living with his arm and I think if I was Jameis I would follow my heart because I did the same thing.”
For his part, Winston has openly acknowledged wanting to tackle both sports professionally.
“That is my dream,” Winston said back in February when asked about twin futures in the NFL and MLB, “whether it’s me being a closer or me being a hitter. But I know I want to be an NFL quarterback.
“Obviously, it would be a tremendous honor to follow in the footsteps of the Bo Jacksons and the Deion Sanders to play both sports professionally. That’s just something that I have to worry about when it comes.”
Jackson says Winston should follow his heart; Winston, though, may want to follow his wallet to find the path of least resistance, at least on his body.
(Photo credit: Sports Illustrated)