On This Date in Sports January 13, 1991: The End of Bo

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The Los Angeles Raiders beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-10 to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1983. The win at the LA Memorial Coliseum comes with a price, as Bo Jackson suffers a hip injury when Kevin Walker tackles him from behind. The injury would end Bo's football career and lead to the end of his baseball career four years later. The Raiders would get stampeded by the Buffalo Bills 51-3 in the AFC Championship one week later.


Bo Jackson became an instant sensation with his dazzling runs and power bat. After spurning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play baseball with the Kansas City Royals, Bo Jackson returned to the NFL in 1987, calling it a hobby. He agreed to play with the Los Angeles Raiders upon completing the MLB season. He played in the Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star Game, as his Bo Knows commercials made him an icon. The Raiders ended a five-year playoff drought by posting a record of 12-4 under coach Art Shell in 1990. Jackson rushed for 698 yards with five touchdowns in the games for the 1990 Raiders. 

The Cincinnati Bengals were hoping to get back to the Super Bowl in 1990. They had lost Super Bowl XXIII 20-16 to the San Francisco 49ers in heartbreaking fashion, as Joe Montana connected with John Taylor on the winning score with 37 seconds left. After missing the playoffs at 8-8 in 1989, the Bengals scratched and clawed their way to an AFC Central Championship at 9-7, beating the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns to end the season. The Bengals crushed the Oilers 41-14 in the Wild Card Game, as six teams made the postseason for the first time, opening the #3 seed to play on Wild Card Weekend. 

With America focused on news out of Iraq, the Bengals looked to get back to the AFC Championship Game as they went to Los Angeles to face the Raiders. In December, the Raiders beat the Bengals 24-7, with Marcus Allen having a big game 140 yards on the ground. The Bengals limped into the DIvision Playoff meeting as several players, including James Brooks and Anthony Munoz, were out of the lineup due to injuries. 

After a scoreless first quarter, the Bengals dented the scoreboard with a 27-yard field goal by Jim Breech. Relying heavily on Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson, the Raiders quickly marched down the field, with Jay Schroeder tossing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Mervyn Fernandez. The Raiders held a 7-3 lead at the half with the touchdown. 

Early in the third quarter, Bo Jackson broke free on a 34-yard run; Jackson suffered a hip injury while being tackled. He would miss the remainder of the game, as the severity of the injury became the story of the game. The tackled by Kevin Walker caused Bo's hip to dislocate. When it settled, it caused a degenerative contention that would lead the two-sport star to need hip replacement surgery ending his NFL career. One play after the injury to Bo Jackson, David Fulcher grabbed an interception that bounced off the hands of Marcus Allen. Despite the misfortune, the Raiders extended the lead to 10-3 on a 49-yard field goal by Jeff Jaeger. 


The Bengals would tie the game in the fourth quarter as Stanford Jennings caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Boomer Esiason. However, the Raiders regained the lead on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Schroeder to Ethan Horton. The Bengals began to feel the game slipping away as Greg Townsend sacked Esiason, ending the Bengals' last chance to score. In the final seconds, Jaeger added a field goal as the Raiders won the game 20-10. 

The injury to Bo Jackson did not look bad when it happened, but over the next few weeks, it did not improve. When Spring Training began, Jackson was diagnosed with Avascular necrosis. The dead tissue injury was caused when the hip dislocated and reset itself during the tackle. The Royals would release Jackson as Spring Training began. Later, Bo Jackson was picked up by the Chicago White Sox but played just 23 games before undergoing hip replacement surgery. Bo Jackson would attempt a comeback in 1993 but was not the same player, retiring with the California Angels in 1994.