Many of you know Bo as a star at DFA over the past 20 years but before that Bo became a football legend at the University of Washington. Bo is being honored at the Husky game this weekend and this recognition is well deserved. I just wanted to share this article I dug up giving you a few highlights his storied career.
Bo Cornell was a hulking football player who ran over people, his fearless style allowing him to move easily from Roosevelt High School to theUniversity of Washington to the NFL.
He had a name suited for toughness, but only because his younger sister, Cindy, couldn’t pronounce Bob.
The Miami Dolphins‘ Benny Malone, however, even had trouble spitting out Bo.
In 1974, Cornell was two games into an NFL position switch with the Buffalo Bills — from backup fullback to starting linebacker — when he chased after Malone on a running play moving away from him. When the Dolphins tailback finally turned up field, the pursuer delivered a massive blow.
“I hit him in the head and we both went down; he was out cold,” Cornell recalled. “He had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. I chipped a big chunk of tooth. I felt I should have been carried off, too.
A lineman told me that was the hardest hit he had ever seen in his life.”
Today, Cornell travels in a far less violent world. At 56, he’s a slighter man with a mild demeanor. He’s into finance, a regional director for California-based Dimensional Fund Advisors. An Issaquah resident, he’s been married to his high school sweetheart, Jeanie, for 33 years and has two grown children.
Cornell started playing football when he was 8, advancing to each level with the same players, among them Jim Currie, Rick Smith, Steve Grassley, Bob Vynne and the late Hugh Klofenstein. As Roosevelt seniors, these guys had become such a cohesive unit they won seven of eight games and captured the 1966 Metro League championship, beating Sealth 14-13 in the Thanksgiving Day title game.
Cornell was durable, lifting weights at a downtown gym up to six times a week, starting when he was 15. He got the tough yard whenever needed but was equally impressive in the open field. He returned a punt 66 yards for a touchdown against Lincoln. He scored from 79 yards out against Shorecrest. Recruiters everywhere sought him out.
The UW was not an automatic choice. Cornell pursued an Air Force Academy appointment, thinking he might become a pilot. Yet he was nearsighted and failed a two-day physical at McChord Air Force Base. He signed a national letter of intent with Stanford and placed it in a mailbox, only to have immediate second thoughts. His father retrieved it from a postal worker.
At the UW, Cornell played for two bad teams and one good one, but was consistent throughout. He scored 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,250 yards in his career. When his team went 1-9 in 1969, he lost just three yards all season while running for 613 in a wishbone offense. Demonstrating his versatility, he caught 33 passes as a senior when the Huskies switched to a passing attack.
The pros wanted him. Cornell was the Cleveland Browns‘ second-round draft pick and spent two seasons as a special-teams player. The Bills traded for him and asked him to move from offense to defense in his second season in Buffalo, considered a radical move at the pro level.
“That was one of the things I was most proud of,” he said. “I had to learn everything on the run. I hadn’t played any defense since high school. To me, it was just football. I wanted to play. I knew I could do it.”