NBC analyst O.J. Simpson absorbed sharp criticism last January when he warned that Bo Jackson's career was in jeopardy after Jackson was injured in the Raiders-Bengals playoff game. Simpson was vindicated yesterday when the Kansas City Royals said they were waiving the two-sport star.
What did Simpson alone know?
"People said it was a hip pointer, but I had had those; they only come from a real jolt, such as a helmet hitting the spot," Simpson said last night. "I saw him go down, and saw the film. It was something else."
In the week after that game, the Raiders remained silent about Jackson playing in Buffalo. Simpson said he used the time to "sleuth around," talking to several physicians while watching Jackson. Simpson became so convinced of his sources that he stated flat-out on Saturday that Jackson would not play the next day, nor would he report for baseball two months later.
When Jackson appeared on the field in Buffalo the same afternoon in sweatpants, Simpson took heat from NBC production personnel. He did not blink, repeating his prediction during the pre-game show the next day.
Jackson's agent, Richard Wood, continued to attack Simpson as a poor journalist. Others hinted he was protecting a player who did not like to play in pain.
Simpson explained, "When a guy as big as him with his acceleration gets injured, it hurts much more."