The Battle of the Bay – Raiders vs. 49ers – kicked off Sunday afternoon with a pre-game discussion with former Raider Bo Jackson and pro hall of famer Willie Brown.
Local youth football teams, Alameda Wolverines, Berkeley Jr. Bears, Hayward Earthquakes and Oakland Dynamites, as well as students from the Oakland Unified School District and their chaperones were in attendance.
Jackson was a Heisman Trophy winner in 1985 before being drafted by the Raiders in 1987. But his career ended suddenly in 1991 in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals after suffering a dislocated hip.
Jackson reminded the youth that no matter how good you are, a sports career will not last forever.
“You have to have something to fall back on and it’s called an education,” he said.
One of ten children, Jackson grew up “dirt poor” and at times he did not have shoes to wear or dinner to eat. But his mother always emphasized the importance of education and its those experiences that made him the person he is today.
“If you put forth the effort, anything is possible. If you work at it, it makes you a better person,” he said.
After the injury, Jackson fulfilled the promise to his mother and completed his B.S. degree in Family and Childhood Development at Auburn University. He has since appeared in commercials and on numerous TV shows including “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”.
In 2007, he opened the “Bo Jackson Sports Complex” in Lockport, Illinois and is part owner of Burr Ridge Bank and Trust, a small community bank in Burr Ridge, Illinois.
“I never thought in a million years, that I’d be in the place that I am now,” he told the attendees. “If I can come from where I’ve come from, you can too.”
He emphasized the importance of education and told them that their brains are the “gas tanks” to their body and they must continue to fuel it with education.
“People can take your money, your house, your car [but] they can’t take your knowledge,” he said.
Jackson concluded by reminding the youth to be wise in their decision-making and to watch the people they surround themselves with if they truly want to succeed in life.
“You never want to have your mother or your father to look at you say, ‘I am disappointed in you’,” he said