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Raiders Had Nothing to Lose, a Lot to Gain

Times Staff Writer

The thinking never stops Dept.:

Raider owner Al Davis wants to know if Bo Jackson is interested in seeing some football games after the baseball season ends. Davis is offering a prime seat--on the Raider bench, with perhaps a little jaunt into the game now and then.

And, of course, should Bo encounter prolonged difficulty with curveballs and discover the compound joy of running 80 yards for a touchdown while wearing the silver and black, what else might be possible? The coup of coups, full-time Raider employment? Davis, a compassionate man, would surely defer to the young man’s wishes.

“Our feeling about him . . . he’s a unique athlete,” Coach Tom Flores said Wednesday of Jackson, who is playing baseball with the Kansas City Royals but was nevertheless the Raiders’ seventh-round draft choice Tuesday. “We would honor his baseball commitment but we wonder if there is a possibility of a dual profession.

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“People have said no one could do it. We haven’t talked to him but maybe he would like the challenge.”

Jackson hasn’t actually ruled out the possibility yet. He has said, additionally, that he loves Los Angeles, Davis, Raider tradition and the color scheme--but he still isn’t coming.

He vowed after Tuesday night’s game that he was staying a baseball player and then refused to discuss it further. Wednesday, his agent made the same point at greater length.

“I talked to Bo,” said Richard Woods from his office in Birmingham, Ala. “He said, ‘Look, I’ve never been happier in my life. I’m doing what I want to do.’

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“He has a very positive response to the Raiders, to the city, to their commitment to excellence. The players he knows have told him they’re a great franchise and Al Davis is a great owner.

“It’s just that he’s chosen baseball and football is effectively precluded. It’s like choosing between two attractive women. You have to give up one.

“I would always be courteous and I would always listen but I’m not saying that to open doors. I’m saying that out of courtesy.

“I think there is no chance the Raiders could sign him. I don’t see any way they could sign him.”

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Just in case Jackson did decide to play a little late-season football, there is his baseball contract to consider. The standard contract carries language barring the player from any hazardous activity. Football might be deemed more dangerous than downhill skiing, which has been declared off limits in the past.

Plus, Jackson’s contract has more language than that.

“There is a clause in his contract that says as long as he plays baseball, he won’t play football,” said Royal General Manager John Schuerholz from Kansas City.

Aside from that, the Raiders may finally have solved the problem of depth at tailback.

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Why did the Raiders draft Jackson? One source said that after the fifth round, they weren’t much interested in anyone.

The consensus around the NFL is that they had a good draft. The Raiders, themselves, are happy.

They went in without picks Nos. 3 and 5, which they had traded for James Lofton and Lionel Washington, made 6 of the league’s total of 18 trades and came out with 4 picks in the top 4 rounds, enabling them to take 2 big offensive linemen, John Clay and Bruce Wilkerson; a big fullback, Steve Smith, and a quarterback Steve Beuerlein.

Add the two trade acquisitions plus ex-Canadian Leaguer Mervyn Fernandez and they’ve had a good off-season.

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Last add, Neil Lomax, Ron Jaworski, et al:

It turns out that the Cardinals did call about a trade Tuesday, but it was a fast call. They asked if Vann McElroy was available, were told he was not and that was all.

St. Louis may still try to move Lomax, but the Raiders are thought to be out of the market. Said a Raider official: “It’s totally dead.”

One thing the Raiders didn’t like was that Lomax goes home to Portland, Ore., in the off-season. They say it sounds too much like Marc Wilson going home to Seattle. Speculation around the league is that the Cardinals may next try to interest the Chargers in Lomax.

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Raider interest in Jaworski died when he looked bad in his El Segundo workout.

Wilson no longer seems to be in the picture anywhere. There is a lot of speculation in the Raider front office that he’ll be waived and paid off.

The Raiders want to see how Jim Plunkett’s right shoulder responds. He is scheduled to start throwing soon, after having had arthroscopic surgery on his rotator cuff in February. If he’s OK, they’ll drop their search for a veteran quarterback.

“At this point, we’re slowing down,” Flores said.

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