The Raiders selected RB Bo Jackson in the 7th round of the 1987 NFL Draft.
By Joey Levitt
Originally published March 2011
The Raiders drafted two-sport superstar Bo Jackson. The year was 1987 and the spot in the draft was in the seventh round, of all places. How he slipped so far in the draft, one might certainly ask. Being a highly skilled baseball player compelled him to elect the world of professional baseball in 1986. The Kansas City Royals were the lucky recipients of the star athlete’s services. He decided the reenter the NFL Draft in 1987 after being initially drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the previous year. Teams throughout the league were skeptical about the viability of success for a two-sport player. Despite his documented potential, he was available for the Silver and Black to select in the 1987 Draft.
In his rookie season, he recorded the longest run of any player in Raiders history with an impressive 91-yarder. He proceeded to break his own record with a 92-yarder in 1989.
During his rookie campaign, Jackson rushed for 554 yards and four touchdowns at an astonishing average of 6.8 yards per carry in only seven games. More pertinent was his blistering speed and the way he punished the opposition’s defense with it.
Additional superlatives include 1989 and 1990 second-team All-Conference selections, a Pro Bowl roster nomination in the latter year and qualifying in the top-three for best average per rush in two consecutive seasons. He also led the 1989 Raiders with 950 yards on a remarkable 5.5 yards per carry.
A combination of unprecedented speed and power created Bo Jackson’s legacy on the field. He evaded initial attempted tackles at the defensive line and outran the rest of the defense en route to his final destination, the end zone. His unforgettable run with the Raiders against the Seattle Seahawks for nearly the length of the football field and into the tunnel displayed his blazing speed. In that same game, his display of sheer power provided another sensational moment when he literally ran over the Seahawks’ Brian Bosworth at the goal line for a score on Monday Night Football. Countless other captivating plays dominate his career highlight reel.
During Jackson’s playing days, the marketing world certainly understood the player’s appeal and indelible impact. Jackson was marketed as an all-time cool player. His resonance with fans the world over placed him in the ranks of Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, legendary superstars of the NBA and NHL. Not restricted to the NFL, he also bolstered the popularity and image of Major League Baseball, a league in which he excelled for the better part of eight seasons with the Royals and Chicago White Sox. Two-sport all-star athletes simply did not exist, let alone with Jackson’s alacrity and high-level of play.
A late-round pick in 1987, the Raiders found one of the greatest athletes in all of sports. In four seasons with the Raiders, Jackson made his mark with 515 rush attempts for 2,782 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Full coverage can be found on Raiders.com throughout the 2013 NFL Draft (April 25-27).