Bo knows, as far as football goes, it's over for him

November 20, 1991|By Mike Conklin | Mike Conklin,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- Bo knows it's over.

In a small office above a Chicago sporting goods store where his own cross-training equipment was the day's featured attraction, Bo Jackson made it official yesterday: He's strictly a one-sport athlete from now on -- and that sport is baseball.

"As far as I'm concerned, I have to do what my doctors told me," said Jackson. "We've sat down -- all my doctors and [White Sox trainer] Herm Schneider -- and my doctors have said it's in my best interest to just play baseball. I can't argue with it."

Jackson's declaration came a month after he failed a physical to see if he could return to the Los Angeles Raiders. It ended months of speculation about his football future following a hip injury sustained in last season's playoffs.

Jackson's intention to stick to baseball ends one of the most celebrated -- and certainly the best marketed -- two-sport careers in pro history and should come as good news to White Sox fans, who got a glimpse of his ability during the slugger's comeback late last season.

For the Sox brass, the news may be simply that -- news.

"It's mostly been public guessing, and I am not the kind of person who will just come out and tell you what you want to know," said Jackson. "I never sat down and told them.

"Who knows? With this type of injury, I may not have a long baseball career. Maybe I can go out and play for five years. Maybe I can play for only two months. We don't know, but, like I said, I am a gamer.

"If I am physically fit to the point that I can go out and play, believe me, I'll be out playing. If not? Well, that's just another chapter that's been ended in the sports career of Bo Jackson. I'll have to go and live life accordingly."

The player's intention to concentrate on helping the Sox appears to be underscored by the fact he and his wife, Linda, plus their three children just moved to a Chicago suburb.

Last season with the White Sox, Jackson joined the club in September, batting .225 in only 71 at-bats. Three of his 16 hits, however, were home runs. He also drove in 14 runs. In four full seasons, Jackson has a .250 average with 109 homers and 313 RBIs.

The former Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn played three complete seasons and part of a fourth with the Raiders. In that time, he rushed for 2,782 yards and 16 TDs. Last season, he was the Raiders' leading rusher.

"This was to be my last football season," said Jackson, whose five-year contract with the Raiders was ending. "Right before the season was over last year, my wife and I got to talking about this being my last year simply because the kids were starting school and it's rough transporting and getting kids started in new schools when they'd already got settled and made new friends."

Jackson should have all the financial security he'll need with the millions he receives from endorsements.

"I hope the public didn't see me playing both sports for the next 10 years, because it's just not possible.

"I have to give it up sometime. Why not now?"

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