For another opinion, Jackson went to Birmingham on Feb. 18 to see Andrews (who has also treated Roger Clemens, Charles Barkley, Jack Nicklaus and Bruce Smith). Andrews concurred with Joyce's diagnosis. That same day, the Royals, who were apparently still unaware of the extent of Jackson's injury because Joyce had complied with his patient's request for confidentiality, agreed with Bo on terms for a one-year contract for $2,375,000.
While Joyce and Andrews agreed on the diagnosis, each has a different prognosis. Joyce believes that the injury will prevent Bo from playing this year at least, and on the basis of his judgment the Royals released Jackson, thus obliging the club to pay him only one sixth of his salary ($391,483), because his contract was not guaranteed. Joyce's reports also scared off the Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves, all of whom were considering claiming Jackson until their own medical advisers told them not to take the chance.
Andrews appears to be a voice in the wilderness. "I really believe Bo Jackson will be back," he told SI last week. "He might be able to play this season, but we have time to make decisions. I don't want to take issue with what other doctors have said. My job is to get Bo well. But this is not a typical avascular necrosis. Number one, it occurred due to a single traumatic episode, a shearing of the cartilage as the hip joint slipped partially out. Number two, it occurred in the back part of the head of the femur, rather than in the front part, as it normally does. Number three, he has no pain, no tenderness, and he has full range of motion." Andrews said that he has had athletes with similar hip injuries who have recovered.
For now, Jackson's rehab program will include swimming, walking and running in a pool; stationary bicycling; and strength training. "I love working with someone with Bo's natural ability," said Andrews. "It's easier to get him well than it is some Joe Schmo."
Joe Schmo doesn't make what Bo makes, either. Even though the Royals cut him loose—and as of Monday no team had picked him up—Jackson is hardly hurting financially. His contract with the Raiders is guaranteed, so even if he can't play, Jackson will get $1,617,500 from Al Davis for the 1991 season. He also has a $2.8 million-a-year contract with Nike through 1993. (Nike, originator of the Bo Knows campaign, so values Jackson that it named its fitness center in Beaverton, Ore., after him.) He has other lucrative endorsements, including AT&T, Cheerios and Pepsi.
"We haven't had any cancellation of endorsements," says Jackson's agent, Richard Woods. "We think the injury will actually help Bo in the long run. The legend of Paul Bunyan will grow by a mile or so when he comes back to play."
Bunyan-Jackson also has a very nice safety net in the form of a $4.5 million Lloyds of London insurance policy in case he has to go into buffalo ranching sooner than expected. The only area of the Bo market that seems to be suffering is the price of his baseball rookie card: Memorabilia dealers have already reduced prices and say they could fall by as much as 40% by season's end.
There was also a certain devaluation of Jackson's worth on the baseball grapevine last week. Detractors pointed out that Bo has one of the highest strikeout rates in history (one for every 3.2 plate appearances) and an awful lifetime fielding percentage (.960), and that he has been reluctant to play hurt. And since Jackson's 1986 debut the Royals have had a better record without him in the lineup (88-77, .533) than with him (261-250, .511).
But even at 28, Jackson is still considered a raw baseball talent. His batting average increased each year, and his all-around skills were improving. There's no telling how good he could have been if he had played baseball full-time and had gone through a few instructional leagues. "In some ways," said Royals owner Ewing Kauffman last week, "I feel we failed to do what we could have done with Bo as far as insisting that he just play baseball. He would have been so much better off. It [football] destroyed potentially the best talent ever to put on a baseball uniform."
Another area in which Jackson was showing improvement was the clubhouse. Remember, this is a guy who gave out autographed pictures of himself to his teammates when he arrived as a rookie. On March 19, as he cleared out his locker, Jackson was on the verge of tears while talking about his fellow Royals. "If there is any hurt to come out of this," he said, "it isn't because the Royals released me. It's because I won't be playing with my teammates. George [Brett], Sabes [Bret Saberhagen], Goobie [Mark Gubicza], Danny [Tartabull]. Really, I can't talk about the little guy, number 36 [Tom Gordon]. He means so much to me. I'll come see him when he pitches."