July 11, 2012

Rookie of the Year: Bo Jackson, 1987

Running Back, Los Angeles Raiders

Age:  25 (Nov. 30)
College: Auburn
Height: 6’1”    Weight: 222

An outstanding all-around athlete, Jackson rushed for 4303 yards in college and won the 1985 Heisman Trophy. He was chosen first overall in the ’86 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but chose to sign with major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals instead. Returning to the draft pool in ’87, Jackson was taken in the seventh round by the Raiders, who agreed to an arrangement where he would play the full baseball season and then join the NFL season in progress. In the strike-interrupted 1987 season, he didn’t make his first appearance with the team until Nov. 1 but, splitting time with veteran RB Marcus Allen, still managed to make an impression with his outstanding combination of size and speed.

1987 Season Summary
Appeared in 7 of 15 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 81
Most attempts, game - 19 (for 78 yds.) vs. Buffalo 12/6
Yards – 554
Most yards, game – 221 yards (on 18 carries) at Seattle 11/30
Average gain – 6.8 [1]
TDs – 4
200-yard rushing games – 1
100-yard rushing games – 1

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 16       
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 20 yds.) vs. Denver 11/22
Yards – 136
Most yards, game - 59 (on 4 catches) vs. Buffalo 12/6
Average gain – 8.5
TDs – 2

TDs – 6
Points – 36

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: NEA

Raiders went 5-10 to finish fourth in the AFC West while leading the conference in rushing yards (2197).

Jackson continued splitting his time between baseball and football, gaining 580 yards rushing in 10 games in 1988 and 950 on 173 carries (5.5 avg.) in 11 appearances in ’89. He achieved an unprecedented double-honor of gaining selection to both the major league baseball All-Star game in 1989 and NFL Pro Bowl in ‘90, but a major hip injury suffered in the postseason ended his pro football career after just four abbreviated seasons (his baseball career was also cut short, although he lasted until 1994). Overall with the Raiders, he rushed for 2782 yards on 515 carries (5.4 avg.), scoring 16 TDs, and caught 40 passes for 352 yards (8.8 avg.) and two more scores, and in addition to his Pro Bowl selection was a second-team All-AFC selection by UPI following the 1989 and ’90 seasons.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

[Updated 2/8/14]