Doctors say Bo can't go, but he's rolling in dough

PRO FOOTBALL

October 13, 1991|By VITO STELLILNO

Bo knows insurance.

Shed no tears for Bo Jackson, whose football career apparently is over because of a hip injury. Jackson had $4 million in disability insurance, and he'll do what he does best -- collect money.

Jackson won't be missed much in pro football. His half-seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders were basically a gimmick that only Al Davis would go for.

He was better off sticking with baseball. Baseball players make twice as much money as football players and play twice as long.

What his football stints did was help him do more commercials.

He was sidelined on the same day that Joe Montana was lost for the year -- and maybe his career -- with elbow surgery, so there were a lot of "Bo and Joe" headlines around the country.

But it's silly to compare Montana and Jackson. Montana was the premier player of his time. Maybe of all time.

The road to the Super Bowl in the past decade went through Montana. He made four trips and lost twice in the NFC title game.

He started the decade with the famous drive against the Dallas Cowboys in the 1981 NFC title game and ended it with the Super Bowl-winning drive against the Cincinnati Bengals. He made the game more exciting just by walking on the field.

Now the football world must wait to see whether he can return next year. After all, he came back from serious back surgery in 1986.

The ominous note is this: Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the only other quarterback to win four Super Bowls, had his career ended by similar surgery in 1983 at the same age -- 35.

The difference is that Bradshaw tried to come back too fast and tried to play that season.

"The doctor said in hindsight that I should have taken a whole year off," Bradshaw said. "I panicked myself out of a career. I think he can play again and be as good as he ever was. I'd just say: 'Joe, give it time. Don't panic, don't feel the pressure.' My heart goes out to him. It's eating him up. It ate me up."

Montana is going to take the season off and may not try to throw until May.

A year ago, he and Phil Simms were leading the 49ers and the New York Giants, respectively, to a combined 10-0 start and the most ballyhooed regular-season duel in five years.

L Now Montana is out for the season and Simms is on the bench.

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The 49ers must sink or swim this season with Steve Young. They cannot simply keep it close and then count on Montana's riding to the rescue late in the season.

It may be an impossible job. Young is going to have to live with the comparisons, and anything less than a playoff appearance will be viewed as a calamity in San Francisco.

"Steve's been here a number of years now. He's been in the system and he's started games, but I can't say you truly know a man's strengths or weaknesses until he's been your starter week after week," coach George Seifert said. "I think we're getting a feel for what he's capable of doing, but I guess you could say, yah, we're a team in a little bit of a transition right now."

A little bit?

Only three other quarterbacks -- Bradshaw, Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers and Otto Graham of the Cleveland Browns -- won four or more titles since the modern era of football began after World War II, although the NFL gives Graham credit for only three because four of his titles were in the All-America Football Conference.

Graham retired after the 1955 season, and the Browns have won one championship since in 36 years. The Steelers and Packers have yet to win titles without Bradshaw and Starr.

If he's not coming back, it will be more than "a little bit of a

transition."

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The owners have unveiled what attorney Jim Quinn had nicknamed the "Dead Sea Scrolls" -- a new player contract offering free agency -- with a lot of strings attached, including a salary cap.

Not surprisingly, the players didn't seem impressed. Although Quinn wouldn't go into details of the offer, he said he still plans to be in court in Minneapolis on Feb. 17, "unless there's a big snowstorm."

He's also trying to get a court date set for another free-agency trial in California in June. Even if he loses in Minneapolis, he's ready to take a second shot in California and may file more suits in the future.

E9 "We get more than one bite of the apple," Quinn said.

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Who owns the New England Patriots?

Nobody seems to know. Victor Kiam's deadline to come up with $38 million for minority partner Fran Murray passed last week without Kiam's producing the money. But he said he has a 30-day extension.

The league is looking into the matter, and lawsuits are likely.

The confusion would seem to strengthen the bid of Florida businessman Malcolm Glazer for an NFL team for Baltimore.

He's offering the NFL cash for a team. That means a franchise with no debt service to be paid on a loan and a franchise with a single owner with whom the the league must deal. No minority partners. No fuss. No muss. After the NFL gets done with the Patriots mess, that may look very attractive.

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