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By Michael Wilbon, Washington Post Staff Writer
December 13, 1987

SEATTLE -- Just as you might expect, his tumultuous rookie season has been a strange trip for the man they call The Boz. Oh, Brian Bosworth looks the same. His haircut is the same, his earrings are still in place. But the bravado isn't there, at least not in an interview Friday afternoon when his frustration spilled out publicly for the first time this year. "The three months that I've been here, they've been the most uncomfortable three months of my whole entire life," Bosworth said.

"So far, I've probably had zero amount of fun playing the game that I'm supposed to have the most fun in my life playing. I have asked myself why and I've asked dear and close friends why. And there's really no answer . . . I don't know the answer . . . After contemplating the question over several weeks, I know it's not my fault.

"This is the one thing I love to do more than anything in the world, and the people around me are making me hate it."

One might expect Bosworth to be as happy as any 22-year-old man could possibly be, what with his 10-year, $11 million contract and a job as a starting linebacker on the Seattle Seahawks, a team contending for the National Football League's AFC title. But The Boz is living proof that money can't buy happiness.

This is not what we have come to expect from the outrageous Boz after three seasons of fun and frolic at the University of Oklahoma, and it is not what Bosworth expects of himself.

But life has not been easy this season, since Bosworth came to a mostly orderly, conservative, do-it-by-the-book city he wanted no part of in the first place. First, he missed training camp while his agent negotiated the biggest rookie contract in NFL history. Then, he had to learn a new position in one of the league's most complex defenses.

Photo scanned from Inside the Seahawks magazine

To complicate his difficulties, Bosworth has not made anyone forget Dick Butkus. The Boz says that much, and even if he didn't, his coaches would.

"So far, my first year has been somewhat of a disappointment because of the expectations, and having to live up to them," he said. The 24-day NFL players' strike, which Bosworth says he "never agreed with, never supported," was out of his control, but it stopped whatever progress he was making.

Tom Catlin, Seattle's defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, called the strike "a gigantic step backward" for Bosworth. "Now, he's where he should be about the second week into the season, but we're three weeks from the end. Four weeks late and four weeks sitting out," Catlin said.

"He does some things pretty well, he's slow reacting on other things. I'd hoped for something better, and I think he'd hoped for something better by this point."

Seahawks President/General Manager Mike McCormack is a big Boz fan and points out that Bosworth is Seattle's second-leading tackler. Still, "I think he thought he was going to come in and pick right up where he was at Oklahoma . . . ," McCormack said.

Much of this could be more easily tolerated if Bosworth's personality was somewhat more demure. But, of course, that isn't the case. Many people inside and outside the NFL told Bosworth long before Seattle chose him in the supplemental draft that he couldn't get away with saying and doing what had made him an anti-establishment hero in college.

But there was Bosworth, two weeks after signing his contract, making a "Land of Boz" poster with a Playboy playmate. Two weeks later, before the season opener, there was The Boz saying, "I can't wait to get my hands on John Elway's boyish face," and adding he'd rather get a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty than lighten up on Elway if he ran out of bounds.

There was The Boz going to court to make the NFL let him wear his prized No. 44, saying he'd spend a million dollars to get No. 44 back. He claimed, "Everything I have is predicated on that number" and said that he'd "get the trial moved to Barbados or someplace" to inconvenience NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

NFL coaches believe nothing goes unnoticed, especially the verbal shots Bosworth has directed toward Elway and the Raiders' tight end Todd Christensen.

His Own Worst Enemy

"Everybody in the league's out to take a shot at him, but he's brought that upon himself," Catlin said. "There are quite a few people going after him; some {are} legitimate and some are not.

"I don't have any use for it, and I know {head coach} Chuck {Knox} doesn't. Chuck talks to him quite frequently; it was about once a week at one point."

With Elway and the Broncos coming to town for a Sunday night game that will go a long way toward Seattle climbing into the thick of the AFC playoff race or getting thrown out, the Seattle coaches wanted Bosworth to be silent this week.

Bosworth thinks the coaches are far too serious. "I was brought up under a completely different philosophy," he said. "I was taught that you go out and under no circumstances should you not have fun. Let yourself go and let your feelings go, and if you want to dog somebody {verbally}, then dog somebody . . .

"This {conservatism} is something I've yet to get used to. Maybe one of these days I'll get used to it. Hopefully I will, but it's just going to take time, I guess."

So, apparently, will the relationship between Bosworth and his teammates. "For whatever reason, maybe because we're still feeling each other out or whatever, I'm not very close with most of the guys on the team. I'm close with a handful of guys . . . ," he said.

But his problems with his teammates wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have problems on the field, too. He agrees that the strike was detrimental to his performance, and said having to play out of position is not helping him, either.

"I was drafted to play one position -- inside on the strong side -- and they threw me on the other side, which is totally foreign to me," he said. "The sophistication of this defense, from what I understand from players around the league, is one of the most complicated in the game. My responsibilities are endless, which has also put more pressure on me."

Photo from Gary & Kristy Laws

When Bosworth left Oklahoma, with one year of eligibility remaining, he initially listed the few clubs he would play for, most of them located in California or New York, places where Bosworth's eccentricities would be no big deal. At first, he said said he would never sign with Seattle.

"I signed because I was really forced to sign," Bosworth said. "If I had sat out, it would really hurt me. You've got to prepare yourself for life, financially. I had no alternative. I played hardball for as long as I could."

The day in August Bosworth signed a contact to spend the next 10 years of his life in Seattle, he couldn't have known how much frustration would fill his first six months.

He said he will try as hard as he can to do whatever Knox and Catlin ask of him, to adjust to the conservative ways of this franchise and this part of the country. He knows it could continue to be difficult.

"Obviously, there are some things I have to adapt to, and someday I will," he said. "But right now, I'm about to the point where I'm just going to tell everyone where they can go and what they can do.

From News Services and Staff Reports
The Washington Post

September 22, 1987

Brian Bosworth of the Seattle Seahawks has gotten back his old University of Oklahoma number -- after taking the NFL to court and winning. Bosworth, a rookie linebacker, wore No. 44, his college number, in Sunday's 43-14 victory over Kansas City. "I'm very superstitious about my number, the way I approach the game, the way I do things," he said. After wearing 44 for three exhibition games, Bosworth was forced to change to 55 for Seattle's regular season opener.


By Michael Wilbon, Washington Post Staff Writer

September 20, 1987

SEPT. 14 -- Kathy Bosworth, mother of "The Boz", stood just outside the locker room where her son the linebacker was getting dressed. She had just seen him ushered off the Mile High Stadium field by four beefy policemen whose primary job Sunday afternoon was to keep angry Denver fans from trampling him when the game ended. Mrs. Bosworth knew this wasn't the first time her son's mouth had gotten him in trouble and assumed it wouldn't be the last. After she surveyed the scene, she said of her son, Brian, one of three children: "If he'd been the first, he'd been the only."

If Bosworth's mother hasn't quite gotten used to "The Boz" yet, it's safe to assume the National Football League doesn't quite know what to make of him one game into his rookie season.

Bosworth, the former Oklahoma all-America, has brought his physical talents and his mouth to the Seattle Seahawks, not necessarily in that order. In his regular season debut against the Broncos, Bosworth made eight tackles, caused one fumble and played well enough to draw praise from several of Denver's offensive players.

But it wasn't what Bosworth did on the field that got everybody all riled up; it was (again) what he said.

Leading up to the game, Bosworth said, in effect, he'd like to get his claws into Elway's "boyish face" and that he wanted to hurt Denver's fair-haired quarterback.

"The guy can really play," Denver's veteran center, Billy Bryan, said of Bosworth. "He hits hard, but clean. I can't remember seeing a rookie linebacker play any better. He's strong at the point of attack {against the run} . . . That play where he ran down John {Elway} was pretty amazing. There aren't too many people who can catch John when he's running like that. It's like catching a car in the fast lane, but Bosworth did it. The thing is, he's good enough to just play and not talk. He doesn'tneed all that talk."

Last Sunday, the talk started early. Bosworth blasted Elway "right in my ear hole," the Denver quarterback said. "He put a couple of good shots on me, but nothing you couldn't get in a lot of NFL games . . . He did scream a lot, but he didn't really say anything. It was more like, 'Aaaahhhhhhh!' "

Before the game, Seattle Coach Chuck Knox in effect apologized for some of Bosworth's comments, even though Elway said he didn't mind.

But there are people who do mind. Even his mother. "The things he said about Elway were not the kind of things you do in the pros," she said. "I don't know how much longer he'll be doing that kind of thing. The coach may settle him down . . . I've learned why he says some of the things he says, but I still cringe because I think, 'Oh, Lord, they're going to get him' . . ."

Some of the Broncos confirmed that. "I think his talk might cause him a few problems if he continues," Denver tackle Dave Studdard said. "That kind of stuff gets you noticed and makes people come looking for you."

Bosworth may be giving in a little to the notion that he has to tone down his act a bit. "Football's entertainment," he said. "My mouth does get me in trouble sometimes . . . {But} if I get a chance to take a shot at an opponent like John Elway, I'm gonna do it; that's my job. This is a physical game, an attacking game. Y'all {reporters} made it seem like I was gonna try to kill the guy."

Bosworth went on to praise Elway for his four-touchdown passing performance that led the Broncos to a 40-17 victory over Seattle.

When asked what he would remember most about his debut, Bosworth said, "That we lost. I never had 40 points scored on me before. I'm used to being on the opposite side of scores like this."

"I made a lot of mistakes," he said. "I've got to concentrate more. It was a disadvantage, though, to play Denver in my first game because they put you in a position where you have to think a whole lot."

There was one play in the first half in which Bryan -- just as an Elway pass was falling incomplete -- stuck his helmet into Bosworth's chest and knocked him flatter than a poster. The fans went wild, "and Boz jumped up screaming bloody murder," Bryan said, laughing. "Did I know it was him? Of course. I watch TV, too. You can't help but notice {even though Bosworth was ordered by the league to abandon his traditional uniform No. 44}.

"But it's not like he should leave humiliated or anything because he did some good things out there. Sooner or later, you get knocked on your butt in this league. It happens to everybody."

Source: Inside the Seahawks, Volume 2, Number 1, Sept. 3-Sept. 9, 1987

Fans 'wave' good-bye to Lions

Late in the second quarter, Brian Bosworth made friends with the fans in the Northwest corner of the Kingdome. He dove through two blockers and whacked the ball carrier but good. A few minutes later a Boz Blitz left the Lions quarterback wondering which domed stadium he was playing in.

Knox was back to his quotable self after the victory, saying the Seahawks had finally played Seahawks football.

The locker room had several interesting scenes after the game. Usually, reporters clog around Dave Krieg and Curt Warner, picking their brains. Friday night was different. Krieg and Warner were orphaned by reporters who wanted to know what was happening inside the Boz brain.

"I had a helluva lot better time today than last time" Bosworth said. I did a lot less thinking out there and I improved. Part of that is cuz I'm getting the system better."

Brian was asked if working with veteran Keith Butler had helped him in his two weeks at camp.

Keith is like an on-the-field coach, he said. "I can't say enough about his help.

Obviously, there are some mixed feelings.

Bosworth, who is trying to beat out Butler for the starting job, said he wants to get as much playing lime as he can during the preseason.

The young linebacker also took note of his first Kingdome appearance. The crowd was great. It felt a lot like a college game the former Oklahoma Sooner said. I still don't think they're as loud as a Nebraska-Oklahoma game.

The wave didn't chill him out.

"We did the wave in Oklahoma," he noted.

Bosworth spent the rest of the weekend getting his picture taken with some Bozkins for a Land of Boz poster.

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