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1987 Draft : In 7th Round, Raiders Draft Jackson--But He Says He's a Baseball Player

April 29, 1987|MARK HEISLER

The Raiders' ceaseless quest for a man to spell Marcus Allen, which last year led them into the U.S. Naval Academy for Napoleon McCallum, now finds them storming the national pastime, itself, for the latest nominee . . .

Vincent (Bo) Jackson.

That's right, the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn and No. 1 pick in the National Football League draft who spurned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now starts in the outfield for the Kansas City Royals, a baseball team.

Jackson's name went back into the NFL draft Tuesday and the Raiders took him in the seventh round. Now they have a year to sign him.

The Navy might have been easier to crack. Jackson went into Tuesday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles hitting .344 with 4 homers and 15 RBIs. He is playing on a $1.1-million, three-year contract, which is a bunt compared to what the Buccaneers offered: $7.5 million for five seasons.

Jackson's baseball contract does have a July 15 buy-out clause. He can inform the team that he's leaving on that date, but he has to give back all the money.

Jackson has repeatedly maintained that he won't play football, which he refers to as "that other sport." Monday he told the Kansas City Times' Bob Nightingale:

"I'm not going to watch the NFL draft. What for? It's too early in the morning. I'll be sleeping. I've already been through one, anyway. I'm not getting up any more. It's a waste of time."

Tuesday night, after being informed of his selection by the Raiders, Jackson said:

"I'm not going to talk about it. I'm going to put a poster up that says 'I'm a baseball player.' "

The Raiders will retain his rights until the draft day, 1988. If they don't sign him by then, Jackson becomes a free agent in the NFL.

Four years ago, Steve Beuerlein wouldn't have thought much of being drafted in the fourth round but Tuesday, when it happened to him, he thought it was ducky.

"I don't think I could have written a script any better," Beuerlein, a quarterback, said from his Fullerton home after the Raiders had picked him. "I'm really excited about the whole thing.

"Coming in here (Notre Dame) and playing as a freshman, I would have thought higher. But the way things turned out, we went through a lot of coaching changes, I was exposed to new philosophies three or four different times, I had one serious injury. . . . I think the way things turned out, considering everything that has happened, I couldn't be any happier."

Thumbnail sketches of the other top Raider picks, in what could be described as their blocking draft:

No. 2--Bruce Wilkerson, 6-5, 290, offensive tackle, Tennessee. All-Southeastern Conference after starting at both guard and tackle. Rated No. 5 among tackles by Mel Kiper Jr.'s Draft Report and No. 4 by Joel Buchsbaum's Scout's Notebook '87.

No. 3--Steve Smith, 6-0, 226, fullback, Penn State. Split time at blocking back with Tim Manoa. After years of using converted college tailbacks--Frank Hawkins, Steve Strachan, Kenny King--the Raiders hope he's the bigger blocker they'd like.

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