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On This Date in Sports November 30, 1987: Bo Knows Dominance

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Bo Jackson delivers one of the most dominant performances in the history of Monday Night Football as the Los Angeles Raiders flatten the Seattle Seahawks 37-14 at the Kingdome. Playing on his 25th birthday, Jackson rushes for 221 yards on 18 carriers with two touchdowns adding a 14-yard reception for his first receiving touchdown. A 91-yard run and an iconic flattening of Brian Bosworth highlight the night.

A year after announcing he would choose to play baseball with Kansas City Royals, Bo Jackson, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner, who was selected first in the 1986 NFL draft, signed a deal with the Los Angeles Raiders as a “hobby.” After completing his first full season in the majors, Bo Jackson joined the Raiders on November 1st. After struggling in his first four games, many wondered if Bo’s NFL stunt was to be taken seriously. It only seemed to alienate Marcus Allen, who was unhappy with the contract offered by the Raiders as he was forced to share the backfield with a fellow Heisman winner.

The Los Angeles Raiders were reeling as they prepared to face a division rival as a nine-point underdog on Monday Night Football, losing their last seven games after a 3-0 start. The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, were in the thick of the playoff chase at 7-3. One player grabbing all the headlines in Seattle was a rookie linebacker, Brian Bosworth. The Seahawks picked Bosworth in the supplemental draft after he was suspended for Oklahoma’s appearance in Orange Bowl after testing positive for steroids. The Boz was a star before playing his first NFL game, winning two Butkus Awards, and signed a record $11 million contract before playing his first game. At the time, Bosworth’s 55 jersey was among the best-selling in the NFL, with many kids getting his haircut, which helped him quickly scoop up numerous endorsement deals.

The game started poorly for Bo Jackson as his fumble led to the Seahawks taking an early 7-0 lead as Dave Krieg connected with Daryl Turner on a 19-yard scoring pass. The Raiders quickly responded as Marc Wilson connected with James Lofton on a 46-yard touchdown pass. Bo Jackson found the end zone in the second quarter, making his first career touchdown catch on a 14-yard pass from Wilson to give the Raiders a 14-7 lead. It was on the next possession that Bo put his stamp on the game. Facing 3rd down and six and their own nine-yard line, Bo Jackson took and handoff and blazed down the Kingdome field 91 yards for a touchdown, running up the tunnel as fans and players watched with astonishment. The run remains the longest from scrimmage in Raiders franchise history. After emerging from the tunnel, Jackson paying homage to his full-time sport, swung an imaginary bat. Chris Bahr would add a pair of field goals as Los Angeles held a 27-7 lead at the half. 

The Raiders and Bo Jackson continued to dominate in the second half, taking a 42-yard carry down to the goal line for a career-defining moment for two big stars. Taking a handoff from the Seattle two-yard line, Jackson was in the sights of Brian Bosworth, who looked helpless as he was carried across the goal line for his third touchdown of the game. Bahr would add a field goal to make it 37-7 in favor of the Raiders, who scored on seven straight possessions. The Seahawks would score late in the third quarter on a Mike Tice reception for the game’s final points as the Raiders won 37-14. Bo Jackson sat out most of the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, but his 221 yards on 18 carries established a new record for rushing yards on Monday Night Football that still stands today.

Bo Jackson would finish his first season with 554 rushing yards, as the Raiders finished with a disappointing record of 5-10, their worst season in over 20 years, which would lead to the dismissal of Coach Tom Flores, who had won two Lombardi trophies as head coach of the Raiders. The Seahawks, coached by Chuck Knox, would finish with a record of 9-6 and made the playoffs but lost in the Wild Card round to the Houston Oilers.

The Monday Night Game by Bo Jackson helped lift him into a new stratosphere, as nobody was laughing at the notion he could play two sports anymore. Bo Jackson would become the face of a major Nike ad campaign as he played at an all-star level in baseball and football before a hip injury ended his NFL career in 1991, eventually ending his baseball career.

Brian Bosworth, meanwhile, never lived up to expectations, playing just three seasons before being forced to retire due to a bad shoulder. Trying to keep up his popularity, Bosworth attempted to launch an acting career, with his 1991 debut film “Stone Cold” being a massive box office flop. Brian Bosworth would be voted one of the ten biggest draft busts in NFL history, with the Bo Jackson play coming to symbolize his career.