NFC South: Bo Jackson

Bo knows. Cam wants to know.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton recently reached out to fellow Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, whose signature "Bo Knows" Nike cross-training shoes campaign was made popular in the late 1980s, on how to deal with injuries.

Newton is recovering from surgery to tighten the tendons in his left ankle that has been an issue since he won the 2010 Heisman after leading Auburn to the national title.

Jackson, the 1985 Heisman winner, suffered a hip injury in 1991 that ended his football career and forced him to focus on his baseball career.

"Bo is kind of like my long-lost big brother, so to speak," Newton said during Carolina's offseason workout program on Tuesday. "He's a guy I know and I can trust that can keep it a hundred, as we say, keep it real with me no matter what the situation is as far as personal life or professional life.

"He's helped me out so much in my career now, and any time you have a guy like that, of that magnitude, that you can reach out [to] and ask questions, that's what I do."

This is part of how Newton is handling the mental side of dealing with injuries. The first pick of the 2011 draft said he's asked more questions and watched more film than ever before.

Jackson has become one he's leaned on the most, not only on dealing with injuries but fame and fortune.

Fortunately for Newton, he's not going through anything as traumatic as Jackson did with his hip. Newton's surgery is expected to make his ankle stronger than ever.

Or to paraphrase Newton, it's scary to think of how much better he can be with a healthy set of wheels.

The key here is Newton's willingness to reach out to athletes like Jackson. Not all star players are so willing.

"A guy who has been a hyped athlete, to do the things that he's done and to deal with injuries ... how does he deal with it?" Newton said. "Whoever, no matter if you're an athlete or businessman, I'm always looking for ways to make me better."

Vincent Jackson trivia

March, 13, 2012
No deal is done yet. But, if the Buccaneers do sign free-agent receiver Vincent Jackson, it won’t be the first time the team has held the rights to a player named Vincent Jackson.

I’d thought of that earlier and was just reminded of that fact by ESPN researcher Keith Hawkins.

Back in 1986, the Buccaneers drafted Vincent Edward Jackson, who went by “Bo’’, with the first overall pick. That didn’t work out very well. Jackson elected to play baseball before later resuming his football career with the Raiders.

The wide receiver the Bucs are in contract negotiations with goes by Vincent T. Jackson on his verified Twitter page. He also commonly goes by "VJ."

The Bucs of old tried to sign Bo Jackson, but he never wanted to listen. Twenty-six years later, the Bucs might finally sign Vincent Jackson.

Keep an eye on the headlines section of our main NFL page because that’s where we post news first. If Jackson does agree to terms, I’ll be back here with a quick analysis.
Nice nugget from ESPN Stats & Information on multiple Heisman Trophy winners selected in the same draft and this one has big NFC South implications.

With Cam Newton and Mark Ingram both selected in the first round Thursday night, the 2011 draft marked just the seventh draft since 1967 in which more than one Heisman Trophy winner has entered the league in the same year.

Newton was picked No. 1 overall and he was college football’s Heisman Trophy winner last season. Ingram was taken at No. 28, after the Saints traded back into the first round to get him. Ingram won the Heisman in the 2009 college season.

The feat also happened in last year’s draft, when Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow both came with the trophy. Prior to that, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart came in together in 2006.

Beyond that, there was a much bigger gap in the time frame. Desmond Howard and Ty Detmer came in the 1992 draft. Vinny Testaverde and Bo Jackson were picked in the 1987 draft. Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie were selected in 1985. Billy Sims and Charles White were drafted in 1980.

Around the NFC South

April, 26, 2011
Let’s take a run through some headlines around the NFC South.

A judge has lifted the lockout, but things remain in limbo as the NFL appeals the decision. But this has cleared the way for at least some players to show up at team facilities. It happened in Charlotte, where kicker John Kasay stopped by Bank of America Stadium. He only stayed for about 10 minutes, but nobody stopped Kasay from entering the building. That’s a good thing. How would you like to be the security guard who has to tell the only remaining member of the 1995 expansion team he can’t go through the door? Kasay’s revered in Charlotte, and I’m pretty much convinced there already is a statue of him somewhere that will be rolled out the moment he decides to retire and placed next to the statue of Sam Mills outside the stadium.

In Tampa, things seem quiet at One Buccaneer Place.

D. Orlando Ledbetter takes a look at UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers. Keep an eye on Ayers; he could be available when the Falcons pick at No. 27 and he has the potential to bring some explosiveness to the defense.

Jeff Duncan continues the countdown of the best and worst draft picks in Saints history. At No. 2 on the worst list is defensive end Shawn Knight who was taken at No. 11 in 1987. Makes me want to check back tomorrow to see who was worse than Knight.

Draft analyst Mike Mayock continues to question Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. This time, Mayock questioned Newton’s attitude, saying he doesn’t know if the quarterback cares enough to be great.

The beat writer who covered Newton in college says he’s the most dynamic talent from the SEC since Bo Jackson.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay debate whether the Panthers at No. 1 or the Bengals at No. 4 are in a tougher spot in this draft.

Early observations on your votes

August, 31, 2010
Just sent the first round of ballots in our contest for the most disliked and most beloved figures in NFC South history into the capable hands of Kevin Little, who is going to be tabulating the results. A senior Sports Business major at Saint Leo University, Kevin’s doing an internship with the Gator Bowl and has graciously agreed to do a quasi-internship in helping with this project.

The voting continues, probably for the rest of the week, so step into the voting booth if you haven’t yet. I scanned the ballots that were just sent off to Kevin and it was fascinating. First off, you’re doing a great job playing by the rules we set out, although I’m not really sure how we got a ballot that had the most disliked and beloved figures in LSU history -- that one’s not going to be tabulated.

I don’t want to influence the vote, but I’ll throw out a few observations.
  • Perhaps the thing that struck me most was the range of emotions from Carolina fans on Jake Delhomme and John Kasay. The former quarterback and the current kicker are getting lots of votes in both categories and that makes some sense. I guess some Carolina fans look at Delhomme’s whole time there and appreciate his contributions, while others are focusing on the quarterback’s horrible final season. Kind of the same with Kasay, the last original Panther. He’s getting a lot of credit for his longevity and the way he carries himself. But there also seem to be a lot of Carolina fans with long memories, who can’t forget Kasay’s lousy kickoff late in the team’s only Super Bowl.
  • Speaking of fans with long memories, Hugh Culverhouse’s name seems to be coming in on quite a few ballots in the Tampa Bay precinct and they’re not checking off the most beloved box. Tampa often gets labeled as a town full of transplants. But this shows me that Tampa Bay fans haven’t forgotten Culverhouse, the team’s original owner, and how bad things were in the early years. Bo Jackson also is getting some votes. Even though he never played for the Bucs, let’s make it clear he’s eligible. The Bucs used a top draft pick on Jackson and it turned out to be a waste when he decided he didn’t want to play for the franchise.
  • I can’t say there’s anything remarkable coming out of the Atlanta precinct. As you might expect, Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick are dominating the disliked category. Lots of beloved votes are coming in too, but I don’t see anyone running away in that category so far.
  • Saints fans are voting the way you’d expect. Drew Brees is getting a lot of beloved votes. Aaron Brooks, Mike Ditka, Tom Benson and Ricky Williams are all running strong campaigns in the disliked category.

We’ll close this out by sharing one New Orleans ballot that I thought was pretty unique and cool.
  • Scott in St. Amant, La., writes: I'll throw a slight curve here and say Jim Henderson of WWL TV and Radio. He's been the radio play-by-play man for the Saints since 86, and the sports anchor for WWL TV since the late 70's. The radio broadcast of Saints games is such a local institution that everyone has at least one family member who insists on playing the radio broadcast alongside the TV one. Jim Henderson has been the calm in the storm through many years of Saints fans pulling their hair out at the teams bad decisions, bad play, and just plain bad luck, while his rare, well thought out and scathing rants are a sign of impending regime change. He has become as much a part of the local Saints experience in the last quarter century as old- time baseball announcers like Ernie Harwell and Harry Caray were for their teams.
TAMPA, Fla. -– Just got another nugget from ESPN’s Stats & Information on Gerald McCoy. He becomes the fifth player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history to be selected in the first three picks.

Lee Roy Selmon (1976), Ricky Bell (’77), Bo Jackson (’86) and Vinny Testaverde (’87) were the first four. Safe to say Tampa Bay fans should hope McCoy has a career like Selmon, another Oklahoma product, did. Or at least a career similar to Bell, who got off to a strong start before having health problems.

Jackson refused to sign with the Bucs and Testaverde could not straighten out a franchise that was in disarray throughout his tenure.

More numbers on Bush's big game

January, 17, 2010
I just received some more details from ESPN Stats & Information about Reggie Bush's dynamic performance in Saturday’s playoff victory.

On five carries, Bush averaged 16.8 yards. That’s a league postseason record. The previous record was 14.9 yards by Michael Vick in a 2004 divisional playoff game. Stephen Davis set the record one year before Vick in a divisional playoff game. Before that, the record was 12.8 by Bo Jackson in a 1990 divisional playoff.

Bush also became only the second player in history to score on a run and a punt return in the same postseason game. Charlie Trippi first did it in 1947.

Bush also became just the fifth player in history to score two touchdowns of 45 or more yards in a postseason game. Randy Moss (2000 season) Ricky Sanders (in Super Bowl XXII), Elmger Angsman (1947) and Wayne Millneer (1937 also did it).

Bush’s 83-yard punt return also was the third longest in NFL postseason history. Jermaine Lewis (88 yards) set the record in 2001. Anthony Carter had an 84-yarder in a 1987 playoff game.
Posted by's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- There obviously isn't an NFC South team in this Super Bowl, but the fact the game is being played in Tampa gives the division a strong connection to the game. The Buccaneers are the face of the NFL in Tampa Bay -- but it hasn't always been a pretty face.

  David Boss/US Presswire
  John McKay left USC to take over the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here's a look back at the early years of the Bucs:

In the very beginning -- out at that primitive facility alongside a Tampa International Airport runway with rodents scurrying the hallways -- the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a National Football League franchise in name only.

It was 1976 and what showed for the first practice at One Buccaneer Place wasn't pretty. The brand new team, which had joined the league with the Seattle Seahawks, had coach John McKay (who had jumped to NFL riches from the University of Southern California), first-round pick draft Lee Roy Selmon, and ... absolutely nothing else.

"The biggest cast of characters and misfits you've ever seen," jokes current Atlanta Falcons president Rich McKay, the son of John McKay.

Rich McKay was about to begin his senior year as a quarterback at nearby Tampa Jesuit High School and worked as a ball boy that first season. The high school kid had a résumé as good as some of the players who showed and was healthier than most of them.

Back in those days, the NFL's expansion rules just weren't very friendly. There was no free agency, a resource Carolina and Jacksonville used to build quickly when they joined the league in 1995. The expansion draft wasn't much help either. The Bucs and the Seahawks didn't even get the list of players available until 24 hours before the draft and couldn't bring players in for medical exams.

"Over 50 percent of the guys on the list couldn't even pass a physical," Rich McKay says. "I think if my dad had known what the expansion rules were and how everything was going to be stacked against the team, he probably would have stayed at USC. Seriously, it made no sense to give a city a franchise and then give them absolutely no chance for success."

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