The best available running back in this year's National Football League draft will be ignored--if the NFL is smart.
Bo Jackson plays baseball.
Despite Tampa Bay's futile experience with drafting him No. 1 last year, some teams will probably be tempted in the middle or lower rounds of the April 28 draft to call out Jackson's name.
Quick, powerful 225-pound running backs are, after all, difficult to find. And Jackson's gridiron credentials--4,000 rushing yards and the 1985 Heisman Trophy--outshine those of Paul Palmer, Brent Fullwood or any other current college runner.
But eight games into his rookie baseball season, the left fielder for the Kansas City Royals has 14 hits in 31 at-bats for a .451 average. He has 3 home runs and 2 doubles and leads the American League with 13 runs batted in.
Smiling, he referred to football as "that other sport." Questioned further, the smile disappeared.
"I'm having the time of my life playing baseball. Baseball is what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I'm not mad at football. I just like baseball. And I feel like I've found a home."
The way their prize rookie has been playing, the Royals might take a bat to anybody who suggests otherwise. Tuesday night, Jackson punished the Detroit Tigers' pitchers for two singles, his first stolen base, a three-run home run and his first grand slam in a 10-1 rout.
The seven RBIs tied a team record.
"We know it's a long year, but I like what I see," Royal Manager Billy Gardner said. "Every time he goes up, he gets more selective. It's great to see him make contact because, with his strength, he is going to hit some out."
Jackson was less of a hit Wednesday night, going 0 for 3 in the Royals' 2-1 win over the Tigers.
Is Jackson surprised by his early success?
"Yes, I am," he said. "But like I told you, I was the only person who didn't doubt myself. I knew I was going to get out there and strike out some and screw up some in the outfield. But I also knew I wasn't going to get out there and get to the point where I was so bad they wouldn't want me."