Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 1987: There goes Bo

SEATTLE - Brian Bosworth was a trash-talking, steroid taking phenom linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks in 1987. He was hyped - with much of the hype coming from his own mouth - as the NFL's next great linebacker, and through the first few games of his rookie season, it seemed like he had lived up to everything that was said about him.

Bo Jackson didn't need hype. Everybody knew how good he was. The Heisman Trophy winner in 1986, Jackson had refused to play for Tampa Bay after being drafted in part because the Buccaneers wanted him to choose between baseball and football. He didn't like the ultimatum, eventually joining the Kansas City Royals. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Raiders acquired his rights, saying he could play baseball all he wanted as long as he joined the football team when the season was over.

So Bo did exactly that, joining the Raiders on November 1. In his first four games, Jackson played well in a reserve role, showing he was worth the wait even as the Raiders were losing all four. Bo's fifth game was scheduled to be a Monday Night contest against the Seahawks and their hotshot new linebacker, Bosworth.

Before the game, Bosworth helped stir things up a bit, making a seemingly meaningless game have relevance by claiming he would singlehandedly dominate and control Jackson throughout the game. That, as it turned out, was a mistake.

Whenever highlights are shown of Bo Jackson's football career, two runs are almost always prominiently featured. The first shows Jackson taking a run around the left end, shifting into a gear only he possessed, and burning past the Seattle secondary down the sideline for a 91-yard touchdown, stopping only after he had run halfway up the Kingdome tunnel. The second shows Jackson again running left, sizing up Bosworth waiting for him in the hole, then running over him like the linebacker was a high schooler.

Both of those runs happened in the same Monday Night game in Seattle. Jackson set a Raiders franchise record with 211 yards rushing in that game, sprinting into national prominience in only his fifth NFL game. Bosworth, meanwhile, faded from glory after being run over by Jackson, revealed to be just another all-talk, no action hothead.

Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth are forever linked, and not just because of Jackson making Bosworth look foolish on a Monday night. Both saw their careers end far too early because of injuries - by the time the 1991 season rolled around, both were out of football for good. But they'll always have that shared moment in Seattle, the night Bosworth called out Bo and got run over for his troubles.

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