KANSAS CITY — Double, double, toil and trouble. Bo Jackson's hometown fans, mid-America division, are preparing a special welcome for him, kind of like the one the Sioux had for Custer.
To remind Bo of his Royal heritage, the locals were drinking blue beer in suburban Westport Saturday night. They'll be wearing blue in the stands today, and unfurling Bo banners for the two separate competitions sponsored by competing radio stations. They'll be singing the new local hit, "Bo Busters."
Then, of course, there's the anticipated baseball throw.
Presumably, the townspeople will content themselves with plastic whiffle balls, but the Chiefs have put on extra security guards to make sure nothing more serious is launched, such as a medicine ball or a heat-seeking missile. Before Jackson's first baseball game after signing with the Raiders, guards confiscated dozens of plastic footballs at the gate--Bo took one home--plus a real pigskin.
"They're definitely ready," said a Chief official last week, laughing. "They've forgotten all about Greg Townsend."
Have these people really thought this thing through?
Remember the line in the old margarine ad, "It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature?"
Well, it's not nice to fool with Bo, either.
Let us count the reasons:
--He's great on artificial turf, which makes his astonishing speed more telling.
--The Chiefs are awful on defense.
--They are especially bad against the run.
Chief opponents have averaged a nice 4.4 yards a rush. Against defenses tougher than the Chiefs', Bo has averaged 7.1.
Whatever happened to the Chiefs?
A year ago, they made the playoffs, and then, in a players' putsch , fired John Mackovic, replacing him with Frank Gansz, Mackovic's popular special teams coach.
Gansz, a former Air Force jet pilot and UCLA assistant, is personable, forthright, well liked by all, and has led the Chiefs right down the tubes.
Well, maybe it hasn't been all his fault. The Chiefs might have been a mirage last season when they played the last-place schedule, led the league in turnovers forced and finished 28th in yards gained. There are only 28 teams in the National Football League.
Whatever chance they thought they had this season--and they thought they had one all right; in camp they were wore "checklist" T-shirts that started with a box marked "Playoffs" and ended with one marked "Super Bowl"--was scuttled by the strike.
They went into it 1-1 and came out of it 1-4. Their first game back was in that bubbling cauldron known as San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, and their next one was at Chicago. Make that 1-6 and see you later.
Gansz spent half the season trying out Todd Blackledge and Frank Seurer at quarterback before arriving back at Bill Kenney.
And the highly touted offensive line turned out to be hype, with former Bruin Irv Eatman and 310-pound Brian Jozwiak, the second lineman picked in the big offensive line draft of 1986, the major disappointments.
And the ball-hawking defense got a new coordinator and went south:
--The Chiefs have had one sack in three games and no interceptions in four.
--Longtime stalwart defensive end Art Still was pulled in the Detroit game.
--Ex-Trojan Jack Del Rio's two sacks represent the entire total for all the outside linebackers.
--Pro Bowl free safety Deron Cherry missed the last game with a knee injury.
--Linebacker Dino Hackett, famous for more than his shotgun-toting presence on the picket line, is limping on a bad ankle.
If the Atlanta Falcons don't manage to pull off the rare double of scoring the fewest points in the league while allowing the most, the Chiefs may. They've allowed as many as the Falcons, 338, and scored only 14 more, 199-185.
Aside from that, the program is right on schedule.
Whatever happened to the Raiders?
The offense that had been stiff and borne by the defensive unit since the Tampa Super Bowl has gone wild: 507 yards at Seattle, 494 last week against the Buffalo Bills.
Not only Jackson's brilliance, but Marcus Allen's attitude which made possible a two-star backfield, and Coach Tom Flores' new offensive design.
Suddenly the Raiders are doing things they have long disdained--screen passes, crossing patterns--which have coincidentally taken the heat off their long-embattled quarterback position.
Marc Wilson is two passes shy of being listed in league statistics, but if he were, he'd be--are you ready for this?--No. 1 in the AFC, No. 2 to Joe Montana in the NFL.
"Right now, they have so many elements in their offense, they can pick and choose what they want to beat you with," Gansz said.
Said Chief nose tackle Bill Maas: "They used to be hard enough to stop when they had Marcus and those other guys. Now, it's almost unfair."