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Legendary athlete Bo Jackson on concussions: 'I would have never played football'

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Legendary athlete Bo Jackson, once a Pro Bowl running back, made a startling confession in an interview with USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

Knowing what people know now about the health risks associated with concussions, Jackson said if he could go back, he wouldn't play football.

"If I knew back then what I know now, I would have never played football," Jackson said.

"Never. I wish I had known about all of those head injuries, but no one knew that. And the people that did know that, they wouldn't tell anybody."

21 PHOTOS
Bo Jackson, a two-sport athlete, through his career
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Bo Jackson, a two-sport athlete, through his career
Auburn University halfback Bo Jackson #34 runs the ball upfield in Auburn, Alabama, at the Jordan-Hare Stadium, circa 1982-85. (Photo by Collegiate Images, LLC/WireImage)
Auburn University running back Bo Jackson. He was the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner. (Photo by Auburn University/WireImage)
AUBURN, AL - 1983: Bo Jackson of the Auburn Tigers poses for a portrait circa 1983 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 2: Bo Jackson #34 of the Auburn Tigers runs with the ball during the 1984 Sugar Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines on January 2, 1984 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) New York: Auburn running back Bo Jackson holds up Heisman Trophy after it was awarded to him at Downtown Athletic club here.
UNDATED: Bo Jackson of the Kansas City Royals steps into the swing during a season game. Bo Jackson played for the Kansas City Royals from 1986-1990. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Bo Jackson of the Kansas City Royals vents his anger after being called out on strikes in the 4th inning of the Royals' game against Baltimore.
LOS ANGELES, CA - 1987: Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson warms up on the field before a 1987 Los Angeles, California, at the Coliseum. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Royal's left fielder Bo Jackson takes refuge from the near 110-degree heat and the Red Sox by ducking behind the scoreboard on Fenway Park's Green Monster wall for a drink of water and a towel, borrowed from the scoreboard crew. The Red Sox defeated the Royals 10-8 to sweep their four game series.
KANSAS CITY, MO - CIRCA 1989: Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the Detroit Tigers during an Major League Baseball game circa 1989 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Jackson played for the Royals from 1986-90. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
1990: LOS ANGELES RAIDERS RUNNING BACK BO JACKSON CARRIES THE FOOTBALL DURING THE RAIDERS GAME AT THE MEMORIAL COLISEUM IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. MANDATORY CREDIT: MIKE POWELL/ALLSPORT
American professional athlete Bo Jackson of the Kansas City Royals in action during an away game, 1990. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule /Allsport
21 Oct 1990: Running back Bo Jackson of the Los Angeles Raiders looks on during a game against the San Diego Chargers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won the game, 24-9. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule Jr. /Al
30 DEC 1990: LOS ANGELES RAIDERS RUNNING BACK BO JACKSON POINTS OUT THE SAN DIEGO CHARGERS DEFENSE DURING THE RAIDERS 17-12 AT THE LOS ANGELES MEMORIAL COLISEUM IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 1993: Bo Jackson #8 of the Chicago White Sox during spring training in March 1993 in Sarasota, FLorida. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA: Chicago White Sox designated hitter Bo Jackson laughs as he loosens up 08 October 1993, in Toronto, Ontario, for his first start in game three of the American League Championship Series. (Photo credit should read CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images)
Auburn's Bo Jackson in 1985. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 11: Bo Jackson rounds the bases during to the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium on Sunday, July 11, 2010, in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Matt Brown/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
ATLANTA - DECEMBER 4: Former Auburn player Bo Jackson signals to the crowd at the start of the fourth quarter during the 2010 SEC Championship between the Auburn Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 24: Former Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals player and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson waves to the crowd as as he is introduced before the 2013 Civil Rights Game between the Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers at U.S. Cellular Field on August 24, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Jackson was earlier honored with the MLB Beacon of Change Award. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Jackson continued, saying he would never let his kids play football.

"The game has gotten so violent, so rough. We're so much more educated on this CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] stuff, there's no way I would ever allow my kids to play football today. Even though I love the sport, I'd smack them in the mouth if they said they wanted to play football. I'd tell them, 'Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.'"

Jackson played four years in the NFL, running for over 2,700 yards and 16 touchdowns while receiving over 300 yards with two touchdowns. He's the only athlete to ever play in an NFL Pro Bowl and an MLB All-Star game.

Jackson, who on Saturday will receive the Scouts Dream Award at the 14th annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, said he doesn't regret leaving baseball to try football, however.

"I still wouldn't change a thing. The man upstairs had a plan of the way of working things out, and they did. I have no regrets."

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