The Jackson Arnold era at Oklahoma has officially started in Norman, and while I usually don’t trust people with two first names, Dillon Gabriel turned out to be a pretty good get for the Sooners.
I’m not sure yet where I fall on someone who’s got a traditional last name for their first name and a traditional first name for their last name, so here’s a list of my favorite people in sports history with first name Jackson or last name Arnold, and in one case, someone that checks off both boxes.
1o. (tie) Keith Jackson, Keith Jackson: I wanted to include both the former Oklahoma tight end and Packers legend and the former ABC broadcaster who was the voice of big college football games of my childhood, so here we are. Starting with the football-playing Keith Jackson, the most interesting part of his professional career was that he hung up the cleats after arguably the best year of his career. In 1996, Jackson caught a career-high 10 touchdowns and won the Super Bowl with Green Bay before retiring at the age of 31 shortly thereafter.
As for the football-broadcasting Keith Jackson, he did give Michigan’s stadium the nickname, “The Big House,” and he is credited for first referring to The Rose Bowl as “the granddaddy of them all,” but if you aren’t old enough, you don’t know that Keith Jackson did much more than just college football. In his broadcasting career, he called NBA basketball, The Olympics, college basketball, auto racing, golf, USFL football and boxing. He also was the voice of many LCS and World Series games in the late 70s and early 80s, becoming one of the most recognizable voices in Major League Baseball.
Here’s a great video of some of Jackson’s baseball calls, including some home runs from somebody else on the list. Also, check out those Pirates uniforms at 03:50.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Bodybuilder, silver screen star, governor. Truly one of the more interesting lives of our time has been lived by the Austrian-born, California-governing Schwarzenegger. The wild journey all began with Arnold’s incredible bodybuilding prowess. Schwarzenegger competed in 22 total bodybuilding or powerlifting events in his career, with 21 of them between the years of 1965-75. He came back in 1980 to win Mr. Olympia for his 19th career win to go along with three runners-up. He then said “Hasta la vista, baby,” and went on to acting.
8. Shoeless Joe Jackson: It will never be known if Shoeless Joe was involved in the Black Sox scandal of 1919, but it is very well known that Joe Jackson was one heck of a ballplayer. With a career average of .356, the kid man who grew up playing on local mill baseball teams to earn a buck turned into one of the best the early days of baseball had seen.
What happened after the Black Sox scandal to Joe Jackson is nothing short of tragic. He went on to play semi-pro ball under an assumed name before eventually moving with his wife to South Carolina. There, they opened up a liquor store. One day Ty Cobb and writer Grantland Rice went into the store and Jackson seemed as if he didn’t know who Ty Cobb was. Cobb said, “Don’t you know me, Joe?”
“Sure I know you, Ty, but I wasn’t sure you wanted to know me. A lot of them don’t.”
7. Arnold Jackson: If we’re going to do a list in honor of the Jackson Arnold era’s start in Norman, we have to include Arnold Jackson on the list. Born in 1891, all Arnold Jackson did was win the 1500 m race at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Yes, the same Stockholm Olympic Games where Jim Thorpe became a worldwide sensation at. In what was dubbed “the greatest race ever run” at the time, the 21-year-old Jackson ran past three Americans to win by one-tenth of a second.
At the age of 23, he went to serve in World War I, but Jackson did more than just serve. He worked his way up the ranks from second lieutenant to eventually becoming a brigadier general in 1918 at the age of 27. He later moved to Connecticut, became a justice of the peace, and then went on to work on the staff of the governor of Kentucky. Why isn’t there a movie about this guy?
6. Lamar Jackson: I might have Lamar a little bit underrated here. He has a very good argument for being the greatest running quarterback in the history of the NFL. His rushing numbers are staggering. Lamar Jackson is on pace to break Michael Vick’s career rushing record for quarterbacks in his 100th career game. Vick played in 143 career games. Lamar could break the record at age 27. Vick ran for 2250 yards after he turned 27.
Fun fact: Lamar Jackson’s hometown is Pompano Beach, Florida, the same hometown as former Sooner offensive lineman Stockar McDougle.
5. Phil Jackson: The pride of Deer Lodge, Montana, Jackson is known as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history, winning 11 NBA titles in 22 seasons as an NBA coach. He also won titles as a player with the Knicks in 1970 and ‘73.
He played in college at the University of North Dakota, which at the time was an NCAA Division II school. Two years in a row, his UND teams finished fourth at the D2 National Tournament, both times being defeated by Southern Illinois. SIU was led by Walt Frazier who went on to become Jackson’s Knicks teammate.
4. Reggie Jackson: Reggie would’ve fit in perfectly with the swing-for-the-fences world we live in today. Reggie’s 2,597 career strikeouts still rank as the most in baseball history, but he had such a knack for big hits in big moments that he got one of the coolest nicknames in all of sports, Mr. October. The crowning moment for Reggie was when he hit three home runs on three pitches in a 1977 World Series-clinching Game Six win over the Dodgers.
If haven’t already, scroll back up and watch Reggie’s big moment as narrated by Keith Jackson.
3. Arnold Palmer: One of the crazy things that I’ve learned about Arnold Palmer is that he didn’t even make his professional debut until age 26. By comparison, Scottie Scheffler is currently 27. Viktor Hovland is 26. Palmer’s contributions to golf are much more than just the delicious half-tea-half-lemonade concoction that bears his name. He was one of the early leaders in helping golf solve its constant problem of not being looked at as a stuffy country club sport.
Many say that Arnold Palmer’s ability to bring golf to the working class was the biggest reason it survived and thrived in the early days of the PGA. Arnold was able to bridge the gap to the everyman while also being distinguished and respected enough by the old guard.
That drink is really good too. I prefer the frozen ones at Louie’s.
2. Red Auerbach: Born Arnold Joseph Auerbach, Red was arguably the most important founding father of one of the greatest franchises in professional sports, the Boston Celtics. After taking over as coach in Boston in 1950, Auerbach won nine championships and seven more as an executive. A staggering 16 total championship rings.
Most know that Red loved a victory cigar more than anybody, even Danny Stutsman, but what most don’t know is how important Auerbach was to breaking down the color barrier in professional basketball. In 1950, Red drafted Chuck Cooper, the first Black player to be drafted in the NBA. In 1964, the Celtics had the first all-Black starting five, then when he retired in 1966 to become the Celtics general manager, Auerbach named Bill Russell as head coach, the first Black head coach in NBA history.
1. Bo Jackson: The real ones know. Bo Jackson was just different. Never have I watched a human being make so many great athletic feats seem so effortless. Before injury ended Bo’s career way too soon, he had one of the greatest professional sports years ever in 1989, running for 950 yards for the Raiders while also hitting 32 home runs, 105 RBIs and 26 stolen bases for the Royals. If his exploits on the field weren’t enough, he was also a part of one of the most iconic and successful ad campaigns. “Bo Knows” was a very big part of my childhood and just another example of the market genius from Nike.
For all the great things Bo did running a football or hitting a baseball, my favorite Bo Jackson highlight is this one, which includes a cameo from Oklahoma State great, Robin Ventura.