MINNEAPOLIS — "Watch out, man."
There you have it, folks. That's what Bo Jackson thought of his performance with the Raiders Sunday when they really worked him into the offense.
In the 31-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Jackson rushed 12 times for 74 yards (6.2 average), then caught a pass for 7 and promptly fumbled, which led to the Vikings' clinching touchdown.
But he saved his most elusive moves for last.
Showing the instincts of a veteran, seconds before the press hit the dressing room, he made a one-hand grab of his garment bag, cut to his right and was gone into the trainers' room, which is off-limits to the media--a trick he may have learned from the old pros on the Kansas City Royals.
Some time later the door burst open like a trap play, and here came Bo again, directing his 230 pounds at the chest of a 140-pound TV reporter.
"Watch out, man," Bo said, doing a fast broken-field run through the dressing room to daylight.
The Vikings saw more of him.
Linebacker Chris Martin, who played with Jackson at Auburn, said, "On those 9- and 10-yard gains we barely tripped him up by the ankles. Once he gets the timing down and the right blocking patterns, he'll be one hell of a back.
"I'd hate to play him every year. The question is whether he'll play 8 or 16 games (each season). As long as he plays 8, he's not gonna become that great.
"After the game I talked to some of my friends on the Raiders and they said there's a little resentment about him coming in late."
Jackson doesn't quite have the Raiders' offense in hand. Coach Tom Flores held him out until the last play of the first quarter, and when the team broke from the huddle and Jackson seemed confused, first Marcus Allen and then quarterback Rusty Hilger directed him to line up out on the right flank.
Sometimes Jackson was a flanker, sometimes he was in tandem with Allen and sometimes he played while Allen rested.
Generally, the Vikings were impressed but not awed.
Safety Joey Browner, who had the first of four Viking interceptions, said, "We were concerned about (Jackson) because he didn't win the Heisman Trophy for no reason. He can't do nothin' but get better.
"But he didn't worry me. We just haven't seen him play, and then for him to get in there and (have them) throw the ball to him and for him to run around like he did, that's enough to shoot fear into anybody. When you have Marcus and him back there you can do a lot of things."
There was some disagreement whether the Vikings expected the Raiders to use Allen and Jackson at the same time, although their spies certainly told them they had been practicing that way all week.
"We had keys on 32 and then when 34 came in, he's a bigger threat because he's got more speed," Browner said. "We had to do some adjusting."
But defensive end Chris Doleman, who had two of the Vikings' five sacks of Raider quarterbacks, said the Allen-Jackson duet didn't surprise him.
"We expected that, but it's tough," Doleman said. "It's like looking down the barrel of a loaded gun--a double-barreled gun. Either one of 'em can pop it on you.
"Not taking anything away from (fullback Steve) Smith, if they had run Smith all day, we just knew that Smith wasn't gonna beat us. But you get Bo and Marcus in the backfield, you're looking at something."
Still, Doleman isn't quite ready to vote Jackson into the Pro Bowl.
"Everybody's blowin' Bo's horn, but I can't overlook Marcus Allen," he said. "Marcus impressed me. Bo is one of the great backs in this league, but he can't do it part-time.
"The thing about Marcus is Marcus' ability to run the ball. Bo is fast (but) Bo beats a lot of people just off his sheer speed.
"Marcus doesn't have quite as much speed. For him to do the things he does . . . I think I could outrun Marcus Allen in a 40. He runs like a 4.6. I ran a 4.51 and a 4.57, and I'm carrying 261 pounds.
"For him to be as shifty as he is, you have to give him credit."
Back in the Raider locker room, Allen, who had rushed 11 times for 50 yards (4.5 average) and caught 4 passes for 12, was in no mood to participate in the discussion.
"Let's talk about winning and losing, all right?" Allen said. "We didn't do what it takes to win.
"What can you say, man, after you lose three straight? There's not much you can say."
Actually, the Raiders have lost five straight, although only the last three can be charged to the regulars since the strike. What's the problem?
"I honestly don't know," Allen said. "I could sit here and throw out a lot of jargon, but I honestly don't know what's going on."
Center Don Mosebar, the Raiders' offensive captain, was asked if blending in Jackson's talents at mid-season has disrupted the offense.
"We change plays all the time," Mosebar said. "It's no big deal."
How about changing quarterbacks? For the third time in five "real" games, Flores replaced starter Rusty Hilger with Mr. Eveready, Marc Wilson, who threw two touchdown passes.
"It doesn't make any difference," Mosebar said. "We still have to block."