I got permission from Bo to auction off a present he gave me for my 60th birthday to raise money for scholarships that will go to Auburn students. I remember he surprised me by showing up at my birthday party and he gave me a Beretta shotgun, and that surprised me even more.
The present meant so much to me that I never took it outside and used it. Instead, I held on to it as a keepsake.
I got to thinking about it and I am 73 years old. I might live to 90, but I might not and wondered what was going to happen to the gun. It came to mind the most useful thing we could do with it was auction it off for a good cause, which was what we did after making sure that was okay with Bo.
The winning bid for Bo's gift was $15,000, the most we have ever received for a single item at any of the fundraiser events we have done for Auburn. The fact that Bo agreed to personalize the gun with an autograph certainly had a lot to do with the price it brought.
Bo Jackson is shown at an Auburn basketball game this past season.
That seems like a lot to pay for the shotgun, but who knows? One day it may be worth a lot more with Bo recently being voted the athlete of the century, which is quite an honor. That covers a huge number of truly great athletes from guys like Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, Ty Cobb, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Herschel Walker, Jim Brown and many others. That is impressive company indeed.
The other finalist for the honor was Brown, who was a tremendous athlete at Syracuse and in the NFL. I remember seeing the running back in person when I was still in college. I was at the airport in New York City on a Monday. I was going to be there all week to appear on the Perry Como television show as a member of the Look All-American Team.
Jim Brown was at the airport leaving the city after playing against the Giants the day before. I guess he was headed back to Cleveland. I will never forget seeing him in person that day even though I didn't talk to him. I knew what a special football player he was and about everybody else did, too.
Thinking about being able to be Bo's coach for four years at Auburn reminds me how fortunate I was to be around such a special athlete during that time.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.