BOCA RATON — Forget football and baseball. Feel free to add cooking to the things Bo knows.
Former Heisman Trophy winner and MLB All-Star Bo Jackson traded his long-retired cleats and gloves for a grill Monday night. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft who now owns his own food line, Bo's Signature Foods, partnered with the Red Meat Lover's Club and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida for a private event at FAU Stadium.
When he wasn't telling stories of SEC football and highlight catches in both baseball and football's most historic stadiums, Jackson was cooking and sharing his trademark Bo Jackson's 34 Beef.
"Tonight is not just about my line of beef … it's about giving back," Jackson said.
Considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson dominated college football as Auburn's lead running back from 1982 to 1985. Jackson won the Heisman in 1985 after rushing for 1,786 yards — then the second-best single-season performance in SEC history — and 17 touchdowns.
After declining to play football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he was drafted with the top pick, Jackson instead took his talents to Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals. He hit .260 with 141 home runs and 415 RBI from 1986 to 1994 and was named MVP of the 1989 All-Star Game.
Jackson eventually made his NFL debut with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987 and quickly became one of the sport's most dynamic players, making the Pro Bowl in 1990. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry from 1987 to 1990 before a freak hip injury in a 1991 playoff game prematurely ended his football career.
Nearly 30 years later, Jackson said he embraced the possibility of forming new relationships when he was contacted about Monday's event. The Red Meat Lover's Club is a South Florida-based organization that exists "to exalt the act of gathering, dining, and ensure that we are the best business dining club in the country," according to their website. The club frequently works with charities at "meatings" around the area.
"I look at them and say I love to cook; I own my own meat company, I love being philanthropic (and) giving back, and doing that in Florida … everything seemed to fit right in," Jackson said. "They decided that they wanted to try my Bo Jackson 34 line of beef and we decided to present them with steaks."
Jackson's website says he became a "food connoisseur at the tender age of 5" while watching his mother cook.
"Over the years, I acquired a passion for preparing great tasting food in the kitchen," Jackson says on his website. "Now that I am out of the world of sports, that is what I do best."
Jackson, whose businesses are all based in Alabama, met with Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer before participating in a Q&A with ESPN West Palm's Jason Pugh. He also held a cooking and grilling demonstration at the stadium.
VIP members were treated to a 45-minute private meet-and-greet with Jackson, where they could take professionally printed photos with the icon. Jackson then autographed the photos.
Part of the proceeds of the VIP tickets will be donated to Make-A-Wish.
"You combine those three, to where you're eating good food, meeting new friends, and doing things for a great cause, you can't ask for anything better," Jackson said.
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This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.