Bo Jackson was determined to “screw” the Buccaneers

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Former Heisman winner and two-sport star Bo Jackson raised some eyebrows when he said if he had to do it over again, he wouldn’t play football.

But it was his first decision to not play football which showed his resolve as a man.

In a story by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Jackson discussed his decision to boycott the Buccaneers, after they used the first pick in the 1986 NFL Draft on him. He was upset because he thought they tried to trick him into giving up baseball, by flying him to Tampa for a physical and allegedly reporting it as an NCAA infraction, for which he was deemed ineligible for his senior season at Auburn.

So he warned the then-Buccaneers owner (the late Hugh Culverhouse) up front he was never going to Tampa, and to not waste a pick on him.

“Their people said they were looking out for me, and checked with the NCAA that it was OK for me to go on their plane for that physical,’’ Jackson said, “but nobody checked it out. Well, I put two and two together, and figured it out. They knew I was a first-round pick in football, but they wanted to get me away from baseball, so they got me ruled ineligible. I’m 100 percent convinced of that. They thought that would make me forget baseball.

“I told myself, ‘All right, if you screw me, I’m going to screw you twice as hard.’ If anybody else had drafted me, I would have gone, but I wasn’t going to play for that man.

“People thought I was crazy, but it was just morals. If you screw me over like that, and I’m not part of a team yet, just think what they’d do to me under contract. I couldn’t do that. I needed the money. I was as poor as a Mississippi outhouse. I needed that money. But I couldn’t play for that man.”

Jackson also had problems with Culverhouse (an Alabama graduate) at a personal level.

“I also observed the way they were treating people,” he said. “The fact the owners kept calling the players, ‘These are my boys.’ Their wives were doing the same thing. I couldn’t go there. I always believed that if you don’t believe in yourself, and stand for what you believe is right, who else is going to have faith in you?’’

Jackson’s willingness to sit was admirable, and sent him to another year of exclusively baseball, most of which was spent in the minors for the Royals.

The next year, the Raiders took a seventh-round flyer on him, and it paid off handsomely for them. But even though he became a major star in two sports and a worldwide marketing machine, Jackson was willing to stand on principle, and followed through by never playing for the Bucs.

72 responses to “Bo Jackson was determined to “screw” the Buccaneers

  1. I remember this as if it were yesterday. Props to Bo for standing up to despicable heel like Culverhouse.
    Culverhouse tried the same sort of shady maneuvering with Doug Williams, and like Bo….he said, “See Ya Later”.

  2. Bo was an amazing athlete. As a baseball player he was the closest thing to Rickey Henderson on the bases and could chase down balls in the outfield that most players couldn’t. In the NFL he was agile and a brute when running. Deion was also a two star player, but an average baseball player who was more show than a player on the diamond.

  3. And of course the NCAA threw the hammer down on the college student.
    Still surprising that the schools don’t drop out of the NCAA and form a new governing body that is realistic for this century.

  4. Bo Knows! Think I respect him even more in retirement. Grew up watching him though, he was amazing in football and baseball. If he had stayed healthy, he might have been a HOF’er in both sports.

  5. Sounds about right for the Culverhouse regime. Weren’t the Bucs in the top 5 or 10 for most profitable teams when Culverhouse owned them even though they were an embarrassment to the fans?

  6. Even though it was a long time ago, Bo did things the right way. Because of that decision, pro baseball and pro football got to experience the best of Bo Jackson.

  7. Poor as a Mississippi outhouse. Now that’s funny.
    Not many people (myself included for sure) who could be that strong in their convictions when a huge pile of cash is on the table just waiting for you to take it.
    As time goes on it becomes more clear every day that Bo may very well be the greatest athlete in recorded history. And a terrific human being as well.

  8. I read the headline and thought: What a jerk. I assumed he just didn’t want to go to a losing franchise (like Elway). Then I read the entire story and thought: Bravo Bo. Bravo.

  9. Bo was great in the NFL, but some of his plays for the Royals were truly mind bending–e.g. breaking a bat over his knee after a strikeout, throwing out Harold Reynolds from left field, hitting a number of spectacular homers, etc.
    He was the fictional Roy Hobbs writ large and larger.

  10. I always thought the decision came down to just Bo preferring baseball, which was admirable enough (I did know that he had warned TB to not draft him ahead of time, so he was 100% fair to them). This makes his decision even more admirable. Just because leagues control where young players go for competitive balance purposes doesn’t make them cattle to be abused. Well done, and thanks PFT for writing this post!

  11. flumundacheese says:
    Jan 14, 2017 10:51 AM
    And then karma kicked in and screwed him twice as hard with a hip injury, and the bucs beat the Raiders in the super bowl, so I guess everything worked out in the end.

    ___________________________________

    Not really. Culverhouse was long gone by the time the Bucs won that Super Bowl and Bo would have not been playing football at that time even if he didn’t get injured.

  12. This guy was the real life Roy Hobbs. Every kid in my generation wanted to be like Bo Jackson. He was legendary in two sports, not to mention he was other worldly on Tecmo Super Bowl. 50 years from now, old men will be telling legendary tales of Bo Jackson.

  13. Best athlete we have ever seen. Had he declared for baseball only, he would have been first player picked. Same for football. Hall of Fame level in both sports, but got hurt so no HOF.

    Like the 30 or 30 special said, if Bo was doing this today we would think he was on steroids, so it was great that we got to see his awesomeness before PEDs became prevalent.

    And how can you not love the principle that he stood upon in the Culverhouse conflict. Warned him, then followed through – even though it costs Bo a lot of money.

    Bo apparently knows even more than Nike showed us.

  14. What this article left out
    (on purpose because the writer hates the Raiders)
    Is that Al Davis was not a racist and thats why Bo went WANTED to play for Raiders. Also Bo Jackson was actually Mark Davis’s (Al’s son) idea. Most people don’t know this but I do since I’m friends with Mark.

    Mark was not always on Al’s good side, Al thought we partied too much back in those days (we did) but Mark would keep telling Al go get that Bo Jackson guy. Al told Mark “Okay I will go get him if he’s around late in draft just for you Mark, just to how you that you are wrong”
    Well Mark was right… I know lot’s of stuff that went down between 85-98 as I would hang out with Mark a lot back then when I lived in LA.
    I don’t see Mark that much anymore as I went and had a family, Mark obviously has a lot on his plate. But for ant writer that thought “Mark Davis does not know football” Mark KNOWS football. Mark also likes conning people for fun, he acts stupid for fun just to get people all in a frenzy. That’s why he has that haircut that started out as a joke. But then said he was going to keep doing it. The goal was to get everyone to talk about his hair…He’s still doing it! But yeah, Mark and I used to destroy the LA scene. I did see Mark last year, I met up with him at our “Old spot” I won’t say where that is….
    He’s a good guy. Smart dude. LOYAL guy

  15. Joe Toronto

    No where does this article mention Terrell Davis. 2 completely different running backs and I may add, not 1 team would have passed on TD (even your Raiders) if they knew how he’d perform.

    JorTotonto is so wise…. said no one ever

  16. 50 years from now, old men will be telling legendary tales of Bo Jackson.
    ——-
    Well it’s been about 30 now, so let’s get this started …

    I saw him playing for the Royals at Fenway Park early on and he hit one the hardest line-drive homeruns and made one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen in that game. Amazing athlete no doubt.

  17. Bo was 5 times better as a football player than a baseball player. If Bo had decided to play baseball full time instead of football, he would have been a “whatever happened to?” footnote to sports.

    He may have screwed the Bucs and Culverhouse (he was just too cheap anyway), but, overall, he screwed himself out of being one of the greatest running backs ever.

  18. I’m a cowboys fan and i had the absolute pleasure of watching this guy play and all i have to say is that if he stayed healthy it’s Bo and EVERYONE ELSE. Including jim brown.

  19. tomtravis76 says:
    Jan 14, 2017 9:47 AM
    And of course the NCAA threw the hammer down on the college student.
    Still surprising that the schools don’t drop out of the NCAA and form a new governing body that is realistic for this century.
    ———————————————————————
    You are aware that school don’t want to drop out of the NCAA right? They have to compensate the athletes moderately, although a college education is a nice benefit, but why would they want to disband a program that would take hundreds of millions out of their pockets? It makes no sense from their perspective.

  20. GO FOR TWO SPORTS says:
    Jan 14, 2017 12:05 PM
    What this article left out
    (on purpose because the writer hates the Raiders)
    Is that Al Davis was not a racist and thats why Bo went WANTED to play for Raiders. Also Bo Jackson was actually Mark Davis’s (Al’s son) idea. Most people don’t know this but I do since I’m friends with Mark.

    Mark was not always on Al’s good side, Al thought we partied too much back in those days (we did) but Mark would keep telling Al go get that Bo Jackson guy. Al told Mark “Okay I will go get him if he’s around late in draft just for you Mark, just to how you that you are wrong”
    Well Mark was right… I know lot’s of stuff that went down between 85-98 as I would hang out with Mark a lot back then when I lived in LA.
    I don’t see Mark that much anymore as I went and had a family, Mark obviously has a lot on his plate. But for ant writer that thought “Mark Davis does not know football” Mark KNOWS football. Mark also likes conning people for fun, he acts stupid for fun just to get people all in a frenzy. That’s why he has that haircut that started out as a joke. But then said he was going to keep doing it. The goal was to get everyone to talk about his hair…He’s still doing it! But yeah, Mark and I used to destroy the LA scene. I did see Mark last year, I met up with him at our “Old spot” I won’t say where that is….
    He’s a good guy. Smart dude. LOYAL guy
    —————————————————————–
    Mark Davis is a clown and looks like Moe from the three stooges. A loyal guy taking the Raiders out of Oakland for the quick buck? Give me a break. Are we supposed to be impressed that you hang out, or used to hang out with Mark Davis? One thing you got right is he like conning people. He conned the people of Oakland out of a football team. I hope you and Mark have a good time in Vegas destroying strip clubs and mustang ranches.

  21. I don’t believe Bo would have signed with the Bucs regardless because Culverhouse was known for trying to pay greatly under market value for draft picks.

    That said, the Bucs were also a dumpster fire in the 80’s and it would have ruined his career.

  22. Long before there was a Kia commercial there was a quip about The Boz and Bo here on PFT. It’s one of my all time favorites:

    jimbo75025 says:
    Jul 3, 2013 3:01 AM

    Monster in college, but his pro career basically ended when he got ran over by an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals.

  23. I’ll never forget the time when Bo ran over Brian Bosworth and exposed him as the roided up fraud. Millennials should watch some videos of him to know how great of an athlete Bo Jackson was.

    Check out the video of him running sideways along the wall in the outfield after catching a fly ball.

  24. It is STILL a rumor, but he ran an unofficial 4.19 40 yard dash

    as a 230 lb running back.

    4.19, even with official timing, closer to 4.25 would still be world class speed, at 230 lbs its hard to imagine–unless you remember that run on the seahawks on monday night football.

  25. Monster in college, but his pro career basically ended when he got ran over by an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals.

    *************************************************

    Had nothing to do with his career ending. Here is real reason:

    Jackson’s sports career was affected by an injury to his left hip.
    In his last game, the aforementioned playoff victory over Cincinnati in January 1991, Jackson suffered a dislocated hip following a tackle. In the film You Don’t Know Bo, Jackson claimed that after he discovered the injury, he physically popped his hip back into the socket and in the process damaged the blood vessels supplying blood to the area.[34] While doctors did not find proof that Jackson physically reset his hip, they did discover that there was a fracture of one of Jackson’s hip bones.
    Within a month of the injury, Jackson had been diagnosed with avascular necrosis of the hip joint. He also was found to have lost all of the cartilage supporting his hip.[35] He would be forced to retire from football, and was then cut by the Royals in spring training.

  26. No running back ever was as good as Jim Brown let alone better. You had to have seen him live. Simpson was second best. IMO.

  27. aqibhasmorepick6sthantylaw says:
    Jan 14, 2017 12:07 PM
    Joe Toronto

    No where does this article mention Terrell Davis. 2 completely different running backs and I may add, not 1 team would have passed on TD (even your Raiders) if they knew how he’d perform.

    JorTotonto is so wise…. said no one ever
    ***************************************
    You Donkos fans like to say that Davis should be in the HOF even though his career was short.

    I’m saying that Bo Jackson would be in way before Davis because BO was way better.

    Understand now, Donko boy?

  28. Jim Brown was the best RB ever in the history of the league. Plus, he played when you played EVERY play and didn’t come out because of a hang nail.

    I don’t have a problem with OJ being second. He played on some pretty atrocious Bills teams, but Barry Sanders was in that group as well.

    As for Bo, he was pretty good, but he was never in the same class as about 20 others. I could list them, but most of you know who would be ahead of him. They are in the HOF, while Bo ain’t!

  29. Jackson’s career wasn’t long enough for the HOF, his talent level was much higher than anyone before or after him though.

  30. I’m a Buccaneers fans and Vincent Edward ‘Bo’ Jackson was %1000 in the right. Not the primary reason I came to root for the Buc’s, but I figured there wasnt much chance a franchise could be that diabolically stupid again.

  31. jayhawk6 says:
    Jan 14, 2017 11:08 AM

    Bo was great in the NFL, but some of his plays for the Royals were truly mind bending–e.g. breaking a bat over his knee after a strikeout, throwing out Harold Reynolds from left field, hitting a number of spectacular homers, etc.
    He was the fictional Roy Hobbs writ large and larger.
    ——
    And who could ever forget the center field hit that was about to clear the wall for a homer that so Bo do the impossible…Run the wall up and down…while catching the ball denying a homer!

    That was inhuman! Wasn’t done before or since. Bo makes me miss the 80’s!

  32. Yeah, too bad a mediocre curve ball ended his career. Feed him off-speed stuff and he was toast. Give him a fastball, you are toast.

    Bo don’t know breaking pitches!!

  33. skawh – You’re a little bit off. The catch was in Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium. Bo was running full speed into the gap, caught the ball on the warning track, and instead of crashing into the wall, he climbed it. Just insane.

    I didn’t know Culverhouse was a ‘Bama grad. That explains a lot. It also solidifies in my mind that Bo was right – the trip to Tampa was orchestrated by Culverhouse to get Bo declared ineligible for baseball so Bo would give it up. I was a Raiders fan at the time (there was no Carolina franchise then), so it worked out great for me as a fan.

    There’s no doubt in my mind he could have been a Hall of Famer in football. Not so sure about baseball, unless over time he could have cut down on the strikeouts and had a better on-base percentage.

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