Jackson era over, says doctor who saw him NFL career is out

baseball may be, too

March 21, 1991|By Chris Dufresne | Chris Dufresne,Los Angeles Times

Bo Jackson never will play football again and almost definitely will be forced to retire from baseball, according to an orthopedic specialist who examined Jackson recently.

The doctor, who asked that his name not be used, said Jackson's career with the Los Angeles Raiders is over and that his condition has worsened since the tailback suffered the injury to his left hip in a playoff game Jan. 13.

Asked if Jackson could return to the Raiders, the doctor said: "No. I don't think he'll play for anybody. I don't see how he can. It will be too painful."

The doctor also confirmed that Jackson, 28, is suffering from avascular necrosis of the hip, a condition in which the blood supply is cut off from the damaged bone, which could cause a serious deformity.

"What they're saying about avascular necrosis is true," he said. One leading orthopedist compared the action of a bone chip in Jackson's hip to "putting sand in a motor."

Raiders team physician Robert Rosenfeld would not confirm the extent of the diagnosis and would only say: "We did every test they did back there [in Kansas City], but they were all normal. It was a complication that was developed later."

Because of the injury, Jackson almost certainly will have to retire from baseball, the orthopedist said.

The Kansas City Royals released Jackson on Monday after their team doctor, Steven Joyce, concluded Jackson would miss the entire 1991 season because of the injury. Jackson held out hope he might return this season. "Don't count me out," he said.

Richard Woods, Jackson's agent, told The Hartford Courant last night that the New York Yankees were among eight to 10 clubs to inquire about Jackson and one of three or four to request medical records.

The Yankees have the first chance to claim Jackson on waivers.

Birmingham-based orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, who examined Jackson on Monday, said there was "no collapse of his hip joint" and added Jackson probably would "be able to return to professional sports in the future."

However, the surgeon who spoke with the Los Angeles Times disagreed.

"Bo obviously isn't going to play baseball this year, no matter how great of an athlete he is," the doctor said.

Can Jackson ever return?

"Not unless they make him a home-run hitter who doesn't have to run or slide into second," he said.

The doctor said Jackson should be able to resume normal physical activities once his injury has healed, but stressed that is a far cry from resuming a career as one of the world's greatest athletes.

It was also learned yesterday that Raiders owner Al Davis has placed a gag order on Rosenfeld, the team doctor, since the injury, demanding he not comment about the severity of Jackson's condition.

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