Bo Jackson's baseball career was left in limbo Friday when no team was willing to gamble that he would recover from his hip injury and ever play again.
Any club could have claimed multi-sport, multi-media star for $1 on the waiver wire. Instead, the afternoon deadline passed without a single bid and Jackson limped away a free agent.Jackson can now negotiate his own deal and his agent, Richard Woods, said some unidentified teams were interested. Jackson, however, likely would get far less than the $2,375,000 guaranteed by the Kansas City Royals before he was released Monday because of his football injury.
Jackson will collect $391,483.52, about one-sixth of his salary, from the Royals because they cut him before opening day. It's uncertain how much more this week's sudden developments will cost him on and off the field.
The New York Yankees, who coveted Jackson for nearly a decade, had the first shot at claiming Jackson. Deposed owner George Steinbrenner said this week that he would pursue Jackson, but the team backed away.
"We wanted to be able to sign him. We wanted in every way for it to happen," Yankees general manager Gene Michael said. "We just felt the risk was too great for us."
Michael said the Yankees studied Jackson's medical reports and solicited the advice of six orthopedic specialists. The conclusion was the same one the Royals reached when they cut him: Bo and sports might be a no go.
"We are a bit suprised that he wasn't claimed because the reports out of New York were so strong that he would be," Woods said. "I told Bo that I thought he would be picked up by the Yankees, but I told him it may not happen.
"He was not shocked by what happened," Woods said. "He's very excited that he gets to pick. I'm extraordinarily confident Bo will sign with another club when he wants to down the road."
Even if a team had claimed Jacksonm, he would have had five days to accept or reject them. If he had said no, he would have become a free agent.
Doctors are split on Jackson's future. Dr. James Andrews, one of the nation's leading orthopedic surgeons in athletics, examined Jackson on Monday and did not rule out his return to sports.
Jackson has been on crutches for most of the time since he was tackled near the sideline in a playoff game against Cincinnati two months ago. He reported early to spring training and has spent his time in rehabilitation at the Royals' camp.
Jackson thrives on challenges, especially physical ones, and assured everyone he would play this season.
Given his choice, Jackson would probably prefer to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jackson has one year left on his $7.4 million contract with the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders, and the city would be a good fit for him, his family and his endorsements.
Jackson, 28, has played four full seasons for the Raiders and Royals with an annual fall overlap, and injuries have been a constant companion.
Jackson is a .250 career hitter, increasing his average every season, with 109 home runs, 313 RBIs and 81 stolen bases. He hit 28 homers with 78 RBIs last season and batted a career-high .272.