5. # 1 Draft Pick Wasted…
“With the No. 1 pick in the 1986 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers … ” threw away their selection.
Bo Jackson’s disdain for the Bucs was sparked by his belief that they intentionally sabotaged his college baseball career by flying him on former owner Hugh Culverhouse’s jet to visit the franchise and take a physical. Though Tampa claimed it checked with the NCAA and SEC, Jackson was ruled ineligible midway through Auburn’s baseball season for violating NCAA rules of amateurism.
“He became very disenchanted with the Culverhouse operation,” former Auburn baseball coach Hal Baird told the Tampa Bay Tribune. “If you know Bo Jackson, he’s nothing if not a man of principle. Once it got in his mind that that might have been calculated, he was never playing a snap for them.”
Keeping his promise, Jackson never played a snap for the Buccaneers. Instead, he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals, was in the major leagues by September of that year and Tampa no longer owned his rights by the time the ’87 NFL draft rolled around. He did eventually play in the NFL, as well as become an All-Star outfielder in baseball, for the Los Angeles Raiders before suffering a career-ending injury.
In a long line of Buccaneers’ draft mishaps, Jackson tops the list after the Buccaneers made him the first pick in the NFL Draft in 1986. Attempting to call Jackson’s bluff, Culverhouse was too stubborn to realize that Jackson was, in fact, not bluffing.