Bo knows Al Davis Flame

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
7:15
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- There are certain images that pop into your head whenever the topic of Bo Jackson, the running back who played football as a "hobby" for the Los Angeles Raiders, is brought up.

[+] EnlargeBo Jackson
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsBo Jackson, who threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at the White Sox's U.S. Cellular Field in April, will partake in a Raiders pregame ceremony when he lights the Al Davis Flame.
You know about him disappearing into the Kingdome tunnel after his 91-yard gallop down the left sideline on Monday Night Football on Nov. 30, 1987.

You know about him plowing through Brian Bosworth at the goal line in the same game.

You know about his star-crossed football career coming to an end in a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 13, 1991, when he dislocated his right hip on a seemingly innocuous tackle by Kevin Walker.

And while Jackson never knew Oakland as his home, Bo will know something new before this weekend's game against the Tennessee Titans -- what it's like to light the Al Davis Flame before kickoff.

Jackson, who played for the Raiders in L.A. from 1987 through 1990 and entered this season with three of the four longest runs in franchise history, will be the latest to light the torch in memory of the late Raiders owner at the invitation of Davis' son Mark, joining the likes of Marcus Allen, Jon Gruden, Art Shell, Tom Flores, Jim Plunkett and John Madden.

"When I'm running, I can't hear a thing," Jackson said on last December's ESPN 30-for-30 documentary, "You Don't Know Bo."

"I can only hear wind going by the holes in my helmet. I can't hear the people cheering. It just goes silent."

He is sure, though, to hear much more Sunday at the O.co Coliseum.

Jackson, who was the No. 1 overall pick of the 1986 NFL draft as the Heisman Trophy winner out of Auburn, chose baseball and the Kansas City Royals over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A year later, the Raiders took a flier on him with a seventh-round pick, No. 183 overall.

In the documentary, Jackson said his agent at the time asked him if he was interested in playing football again. Jackson said it depended on the team. He was told it was the Raiders.

"Hell yeah," Jackson said.

"I know that Al Davis was always fascinated with great size and great speed, tangible numbers," said former teammate Howie Long, "and Bo had that in spades."

It made for a good problem to have for then-coach Flores in Jackson's rookie year, seeing as how the Raiders already had Allen in the backfield.

"Whatever comes after baseball season is a hobby for Bo Jackson," Jackson said at the time, "just like fishing and hunting."

Jackson remains the only player in history to be selected for both the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and the NFL's Pro Bowl.

In 38 career games with the Raiders, 23 starts, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry while scoring 16 rushing touchdowns and two more through the air.

And until Terrelle Pryor broke off his 93-yard touchdown run against the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier this season, Jackson's 92-yarder against the Bengals on Nov. 5, 1989, was the franchise record for longest run.

It all ended, though, when he took the pitch from Jay Schroeder and burst up the right sideline for a 34-yard gain on the second play of the third quarter in that postseason game. After the tackle -- Jackson was so powerful he literally yanked his own leg out of its socket trying to break out of Walker's grasp -- Jackson stood up before collapsing on the grass. He said on a scale of 1 to 10, the pain was a 25.

"I could have easily stepped out of bounds, but I didn't," Jackson said in the documentary. "That's just the nature of the beast."

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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