One of the most talked-about hips since Elvis’ pelvis belongs to Bo Jackson, the Raider tailback who strained his left hip after a 34-yard run in a 20-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
Like most keen dramatists, the Raiders are expected to drag out their decision on whether to play Jackson against Buffalo until perhaps moments before kickoff at next Sunday’s AFC championship game.
Jackson, who vowed he will play against the Bills as they wheeled him down the Coliseum tunnel after Sunday’s game, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging test Monday.
But after the examination, the team released a statement saying only that Jackson was undergoing treatment and that “no status report will be issued until later this week.” Which means the Raiders won’t know about Jackson’s availability until they see him in practice Wednesday.
Raider Coach Art Shell said he would make the final decision on Jackson.
“We’ll watch him,” Shell said. “If I think he can go, he’ll go. If I don’t think he can go, he won’t go.”
Jackson was injured when he was tackled by linebacker Kevin Walker, who grabbed Jackson’s right leg and twisted him to the ground. Jackson’s left leg locked in the grass, wrenching the hip.
“Watch the film,” Shell said. “The guy grabbed one leg and the other leg was straight forward.”
Jackson didn’t return to the game and was still limping noticeably long after the game ended.
“How bad it is, we don’t know,” Shell said. “I don’t remember anything like this happening before.”
Unlike some teams, the Raiders have some viable contingency plans. Marcus Allen picked up the slack in Jackson’s absence against the Bengals, rushing for a season-high 140 yards in 21 carries.
Also available is tailback Greg Bell, who has been on injured reserve because of a minor ankle sprain since the week Jackson joined the team in October.
With Jackson and Allen running strong, the Raiders have kept Bell on injured reserve for 11 weeks. Bell rushed for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with the Rams in 1988 and 1989 before being traded to the Raiders last spring.
“Losing Bo would hurt,” guard Steve Wisniewski said. “We want him back and healthy. But there was no letdown with Marcus. And still in the stable is Greg Bell.”
The Raiders have another free roster move to use by virtue of their advancement to the championship game. Bell has been waiting patiently for a chance to play. A return to Buffalo, where Bell played three-plus seasons, would only seem fitting.
“I’m ready,” Bell said Monday.
But are the Raiders?
“Obviously, if Bo can’t go, we’d have to make sure we put someone else on the roster who could help us,” Shell said. “It’s possible we would activate Greg Bell.”
Six days before kickoff, the Raiders are already answering questions about having to play at Buffalo in potentially frigid weather. Had the Raiders not lost a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead to Buffalo Oct. 7, they would be getting ready to welcome the Bills instead of packing long underwear.
Shell figures if he can handle cold weather, his team can. As a player, Shell survived the Cold Bowl at Cleveland in the second round of the 1980 playoffs. The Raiders won the game and ended up winning Super Bowl XV.
“I can’t think of anything that was as cold as Cleveland that day,” Shell said. “I can relate to that because I was there. Yes, I will talk to the team about that.”
Center Don Mosebar tried to put weather in its proper perspective.
“They get cold,” he said of the Bills. “Everybody gets cold. People on the East Coast don’t exactly sit out in their front yards in the snow and say, ‘Boy, this is nice.’ ”