Scott Says

The day Bo Jackson went down for good at the L.A. Coliseum

Bo Jackson’s last play: Just when it appeared he might go all the way, the Raiders star was tackled from behind by Cincinnati linebacker Kevin Walker following a 34-yard gain. Jackson got up and limped off.
Bo Jackson’s last play: Just when it appeared he might go all the way, the Raiders star was tackled from behind by Cincinnati linebacker Kevin Walker following a 34-yard gain. Jackson got up and limped off. Getty Images

I walked into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time on Jan. 13, 1991. A few hours later, I saw Bo Jackson hobbling out of the same stadium with a career-ending hip injury

The L.A. Coliseum – site of Sunday’s Carolina Panthers-L.A. Rams game – was at the time serving as the home field for the L.A. Raiders. This was 25 years ago, and the place looked old even then. Built in 1923, the stadium has hosted two Summer Olympics, a papal mass, numerous presidents and both the first-ever Super Bowl and the one in which the Miami Dolphins clinched their 17-0 season.

This date in 1991, though, became infamous for being the last NFL game that Jackson ever played.

I was covering the game for The Miami Herald, a newspaper with no connection to the game whatsoever. Back then, though, newspapers were awash in money and would send a staff writer across the country to cover an NFL playoff game just for the heck of it.

This is what I remember about the play that ended Jackson’s NFL career and pretty much short-circuited his all-star baseball career, too, that once had wound through Charlotte: It didn’t look that bad. You could think of a dozen NFL hits right now – maybe 100 – that looked far worse.

Jackson was alternating carries with Marcus Allen against Cincinnati and seemed a threat to break off a long touchdown at any time.

Finally, it came. Jackson used his incredible speed – he was once hand-timed at 4.12 seconds in the 40-yard dash – to circle wide on a sweep and head upfield. Just when it appeared he might go all the way, he was tackled from behind by Cincinnati linebacker Kevin Walker following a 34-yard gain. Jackson got up and limped off.

Jackson didn’t return to that Raiders win, finishing with six carries for 77 yards. And, at age 28, Jackson would never play football again. His hip was both fractured and dislocated, and the injury would later be complicated by a condition called avascular necrosis.

I remember in the locker room later that day, though, Jackson insisting he would play the following week in the AFC Championship Game while two of his children played with his helmet, oblivious to the commotion.

“I’ll be back against Buffalo,” he said. He wasn’t, and the Raiders got blown out.

It was a strange afternoon. I hope we don’t see anything like it in the Panthers-Rams game.

▪  Prediction time. I swore I would not pick the Panthers again until they actually won a game. They did against Arizona, with me picking the Cards.

So now I am a lousy 3-4 picking Carolina games and trying to get to .500 in this strange season. This week’s pick: Carolina 24, Los Angeles 21.

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