Most people in the 1980s had more opinions about Brian Bosworth than he had wild hairstyles.
From the greatest college linebacker they’ve ever seen to a brash jerk, everyone had an opinion on “The Boz.”
Bosworth’s brash “renegade” attitude and rebel appearance drew a lot of ire from media, fans, and the governing body of college football in the mid-80s.
In college, he backed up his talk with dominant play.
Much like his signature mullet, “The Boz’s” staying power quickly slipped from the football spotlight, though.
Interviewing Brian Bosworth on my show tomorrow. He has a new “Bucket List” show he is promoting about college football. Any questions for “The Boz?” pic.twitter.com/Dw1GeN5MiK
— John Ramsey (@JohnRamseyUofL) February 5, 2021
It doesn’t mean that the mullet completely disappeared, it just left the mainstream pretty quickly.
The same can be said about Brian Bosworth.
After dominating opponents and headlines in college at the University of Oklahoma, Bosworth was drafted in the supplemental draft by the Seattle Seahawks in 1987.
The hard-hitting, brash linebacker, looked primed to take the league by storm.
Especially when he signed the biggest rookie contract in history ($11 million over 10 years).
However, a major shoulder injury stopped “The Boz” in his tracks and quickly ended his NFL career after three seasons.
In six short seasons in the mainstream football spotlight, Bosworth became a household name that had no intentions of going away.
Even after his NFL career ended, Bosworth found ways to stay in the public eye with his statements, movie appearances, commercials, and sports analyst jobs.
If you flip around college football broadcasts on a Saturday, there’s a good chance you’ll still see him on your TV today.
Next time you’re wondering why that guy in the “Fanville” Dr. Pepper commercial looks familiar, it’s because you’re looking at “The Boz.”
Looking forward to interviewing "The Boz" in the 8-AM hour. Brian Bosworth talks about his docu on the 8 best destinations in #CFB. It's called "BUCKET LIST" and includes stops at @AlabamaFTBL and @AuburnFootball and of course, gotta ask about the Bo TD run. pic.twitter.com/yZilIK8wJ9
— Mike Dubberly GDA (@MikeDubberlyGDA) February 5, 2021
Creation of “The Boz”
Growing up, Bosworth split time between his grandparent’s farm in the summer and his parent’s house in Texas during the school year.
The two locations gave him very different experiences.
He enjoyed calm stability at his grandparent’s farm in Meeker, Oklahoma, where he was a nice kid named Brian.
Constant turbulence existed at his parent’s house that grew his aggressive side and shaped the persona of “The Boz.”
“I wasn’t getting the same signals [at home],” Bosworth said in an interview with CBN. “I got chaos. My father just didn’t have the tools. His toolbox was empty. I didn’t get what a son needs so he knows how to grow up. Instead of a conversation, I got a beating and punishment. But no love, no ‘I’m sorry’. I never got that from him.”
When he went to The University of Oklahoma, his persona of “The Boz” and Brian became inseparable.
One of his defining moments came in his sophomore year in the Red River Shootout against the University of Texas.
At the end of the season, Bosworth and the Sooners won the National Championship with a 25-10 win over Penn State in the Orange Bowl.
The dominant sophomore season crowned Bosworth with the Dick Butkus Award for the best linebacker in the nation and All-American status.
Heading into his junior season, Bosworth continued his brash, aggressive antics, speaking loudly and drawing messages on his shoes.
“The Boz’s” antics came to a head in the 1986 Orange Bowl.
Bosworth got suspended from the game because of a positive steroid test but that didn’t stop him from being the biggest storyline in the game.
On the sideline during the game, Bosworth exposed a t-shirt reading “National Communists Against Athletes.”
Barry Switzer, the Sooners head coach who became a father figure to Bosworth, had defended the loud-mouthed linebacker, but this action crossed the line.
Switzer kicked Bosworth off the team and ended his college career.
Before his steroid suspension, Bosworth became the only back-to-back Butkus Award winner and was a 1986 Heisman Trophy finalist.
30 years ago, most odd/random Heisman ceremony:
Vinny Testaverde, Paul Palmer, Brian Bosworth, Gordie Lockbaumhttps://t.co/2svpdhj6Ht pic.twitter.com/RbpQsRv4jw
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) December 6, 2016
Heading into the NFL Draft, Bosworth sent letters to teams, telling them he wouldn’t report to their training camps and they shouldn’t draft him.
He expressed interest that he wanted to go to the Los Angeles Raiders.
Bo and The Boz
It was the Seattle Seahawks and not the Raiders who drafted Bosworth in the supplemental draft in 1987.
The Raiders would soon get acquainted with Bosworth in his rookie season, though.
Bosworth’s biggest moment in the NFL came in a Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Raiders.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t for any positive plays on the field.
Heading into the game, the focus surrounded the highly touted linebacker and rookie running back Bo Jackson.
“The Boz” claimed he would shut down Jackson, who made his NFL debut in 1987 after choosing baseball over football in 1986.
The hype around Jackson was epic and he looked good with 254 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his first four NFL games.
In college, Bosworth could usually back his talk up.
That wasn’t the case on Nov. 30, 1987.
Jackson dominated the game with a Monday Night Football record 221 rushing yards and three scores.
In the second quarter, Jackson scampered for 91 yards and embarrassed Bosworth and the Seahawks defense as he ran out of the tunnel after the score.
Bo Jackson displays his athletic prowess with a 91-yard touchdown run against the Seahawks, 1987. pic.twitter.com/mffeanvcTv
— High & Outside Sports (@HighandOutside_) February 4, 2017
The defining moment happened in the third quarter when Jackson ran through Bosworth on his way to a two-yard touchdown that put Los Angeles ahead 34-7.
It was Bo Jackson’s 25th birthday. It was this day in 1987. It was the day Bo met the Boz.
Pay homage. pic.twitter.com/YgOyOxFeBh
— HOMAGE (@HOMAGE) November 30, 2017
Shouldering the Load
Looking back at the game now, Bosworth and Jackson became kindred spirits of sorts as both suffered career-ending injuries a few years into the league.
“Bo and I do have an interesting parallel,” Bosworth said to ABC News in 2016. “I know he came into professional baseball and football with great expectations of a prolific and long career. And it was cut short. Same with me — cut short. We were both cut short by injuries that required joint replacements.”
Bosworth played the first two games in 1989 before injuring his shoulder making a tackle against Phoenix Cardinals running back Ron Wolfley.
After a failed physical in 1990, he was cut by the Seahawks, who said they didn’t see a point in the future where he’d be able to pass a physical and play football again.
With 24 appearances in three seasons, Bosworth’s career was over before it ever got off the ground.
“I don’t think he ever had an impact on this team,” Seattle Seahawks General Manager Tom Flores said to the Associated Press in 1990. “I think he would have. But he really never had the opportunity to have the impact everyone felt he should.”
Bosworth fought a legal battle until 1993 and was awarded $7 million when he showed his injury was from a single hit and not the result of degenerative arthritis.
With his career over, Bosworth quickly turned his attention toward Hollywood action movies and TV shows.
“The Boz” Goes to Hollywood
Nobody would have bet that Bosworth would follow up a three-year NFL career with more than 30 years of appearances in the entertainment industry.
It started in 1991 when Bosworth appeared in the movie “Stone Cold” about a tough Alabama cop who is blackmailed by the FBI and goes uncovered in a violent biker gang.
Bosworth continued to show up in movies and TV shows over the next several years.
In 1996, he appeared in a variety of movies, including “Midnight Heat”, “One Tough Bastard”, and “Virus”.
The following year, Bosworth appeared in episodes of MADtv, Lawless, and the movie “Back in Business.”
“The Boz” got steady work over those two years as an action star and all-around personality on the big and small screen.
Movies like this are the reason why The Horror Show is back and episodes like this are why they're at the top of their game. This week, @ihatehorrorshow and @Boognish1985 are covering Brian Bosworth's WILD action movie debut, 1991's STONE COLD!#Podcast #TheHorrorShow pic.twitter.com/MGYzj2uWSj
— CollectHorror (@HorrorCollect) February 9, 2021
Bosworth’s biggest movie appearance came in the 2005 remake of “The Longest Yard”
The list goes on to this day with Bosworth establishing a much longer career in movies than he did on the football field.
Back to Talking Sports
When Vince McMahon launched the XFL, Bosworth signed on to be a color commentator, calling Sunday night games on UPN.
The XFL folded after one season but Bosworth took his experience and joined Turner Sports as a studio analyst for college football in 2003.
After one season in the position, Bosworth left the network and focused on other areas of his life.
Bosworth has become a regular guest across sports talk TV and radio, especially after ESPN produced the 30 for 30, “Brian and The Boz” in 2014.
The documentary focuses on a trip between Bosworth and his son Max checking on a storage unit that holds relics from Bosworth’s career.
A slew of commercials has featured Bosworth over the past several years, including commercials for Dish Network, Dr. Pepper, and Kia.
The Kia commercial paired Bosworth back up with his 1987 nemesis, Bo Jackson.
In 2021, Bosworth announced he would host an eight-part documentary series titled, “Bucket List.”
The show follows Bosworth to the biggest college football destinations to interview former players and discover the best venues.
Stories You Wouldn’t Believe
The amount of stories about Bosworth throughout his life make you feel like you’re reading about five different people.
His football and acting careers are well noted but the life beyond that spans a lot of different chapters.
In 2010, Bosworth decided to try his hand at real estate and became an agent for Sotheby’s in their Malibu, California office.
Like many things in Bosworth’s life, it appears to be a chapter that quickly closed.
The stories of Bosworth online are endless.
In 2008, he rescued a woman who rolled her SUV near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The following year, he administered CPR to a fallen man in a parking lot until an ambulance arrived.
Bosworth’s layers are like an onion unraveling the deeper you look into his life.
On Twitter in 2019, Bosworth apologized to a woman who told a story about how rude he was to her while playing for the Seahawks in the late-80s.
So sorry that our interaction was unpleasant when I was young..back then I tended to be all about me & nothing about HIM..standing alone is being in darkness…being close to HIM life is very bright and full of Grace so our next interaction will be much brighter @Tammy80008759 https://t.co/aWjRkearIa
— Brian Bosworth (@GotBoz44) December 27, 2019
All of the layers of Bosworth add up to form a complicated and complex human, but in recent years, it seems the wildest layer has been removed.
Leaving “The Boz” Behind
As Bosworth grew older in life, he started to reflect and confront the anger and rage that turned him into “The Boz.”
His father’s death served as an opportunity for Bosworth to process his inner emotions.
Bosworth turned to his faith and religion for healing and clarity in the personal struggles he was experiencing.
“Feeling like a failure as a son, as a football player and a failure to the fans,” Bosworth said to CBN. “That wasn’t something that I had any ownership of anymore because I gave that to Jesus and He took all that away. This newfound freedom of peace is the gift of being forgiven.”
With his newfound faith, Bosworth appeared in several religiously focused movies, including “Revelation Road” and “Do You Believe?”.
A catalyst along the way for leaving “The Boz” behind came in an unread letter Bosworth stumbled upon in 2010.
“I just want to make sure that you don’t let ‘The Boz’ take you for a ride,” wrote Gary Gibbs, Bosworth’s linebackers coach in college. “You be Brian. Have the courage to be Brian.”
Bosworth said to The Oklahoman in 2016 that he wish he read that letter when he received it in 1987.
The persona created by Bosworth likely got the better of him for a long stretch of his life but it didn’t consume him.
Most people in 1989 probably wouldn’t have guessed “The Boz” would be a grey-bearded old man spreading positive messages to people 30 years later.
That’s why “The Boz” is simply Brian Bosworth these days.
Being accountable to all actions past & present help to shape our future choices where every moment matters…it heals pain, builds bridges & creates opportunity to discover our better self when we need it the most. Thank you for your reminder. https://t.co/2z0UKRJJzM
— Brian Bosworth (@GotBoz44) July 29, 2020
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Chuck G. says
I always thought Brian Bosworth was a guy who was deep down nothing what he betrayed in his youth….turns out that was the case.
Steven E Snyder says
I was a classmate of Brian’s in college. He was quiet and non-assuming; huge difference from ‘The Boz’.
Karen M says
I worked with Brian at the grocery store in high school. He was a nice guy. I’m glad to see that his life has turned out to be a good one!