Boz: Was It All Part Of Game Plan?

He left without even saying goodbye. This man who had so much to say when he arrived in the summer of 1987, drifted out of town like the fog, leaving Seattle, the Seahawks and the National Football League on little cat's feet.

Brian Bosworth was every promise that was never kept. He was every fad that never lasted. He was the lambada of linebackers. A Nehru jacket with shoulder pads. A hoola hoop, wearing No. 55. He was the last disco dance. The first pair of bell-bottomed pants.

Bosworth was a fraud, a lemon, a jerk, a 245-pound mouth.

He was billed as the next Dick Butkus, the next Sam Huff, the next Ray Nitschke. He was the next Ford Pinto. He was supposed to be a terror. Instead, he was terrible.

Now he's gone. He flunked his last football test last week, failing his Seahawk physical. The report said he had a bad shoulder. He also had bad knees, a bad attitude and a bad feel for the game.

He leaves behind a legacy of unanswered questions. Did he make his reputation bullying the meek Kansas States, Missouris and Iowa States of the Big Eight?

How much of a role did steroids play in his game? When he played at Oklahoma, was he as blown up as one of those balloons at the Macy's parade? Were the Seahawks fooled by a steroid-swollen Bosworth? In Seattle, he became the incredible shrinking linebacker.

Couldn't they have seen it coming? In an age when players are weighed, tested and measured like prize-winning cattle, shouldn't the Seahawks have been skeptical about his smallish 9 1/2 feet and little hands? He was supposed to be another Lawrence Taylor. How could so many NFL experts have been wrong?

Questions. Did Bosworth really want to play in the NFL? Did he lose his desire when he signed his contract? Football is different from the other professional sports. No matter how much money an NFL player makes, he pays for it in pain. Did Bosworth have time for the pain?

Did Bosworth know when he came to Seattle, that his shoulders were damaged beyond repair; that his heart no longer was in the game; that his career would be brief as an Alaskan spring?

It appears now that Bosworth and agent Gary Wichard had a game plan as brilliant as any devised by Vince Lombardi, Don Shula or Chuck Noll.

Blow into town on a whirlwind of braggadocio. Hide your physical liabilities in a heap of hyperbole. Sell yourself like Cal Worthington sells cars. Be outrageous. Be bad as Mr. T. Blast John Elway.

Write a book. Make it up as you go along. Take no prisoners. Distance yourself from your teammates. Eventually shut yourself off from the press. Take one last lick on your aching shoulder, then take your millions and go gentle into that good night.

You hope that somewhere under that hard shell, Bosworth feels some embarrassment. He will be remembered as one of the game's all-time flops. Somewhere on his psyche there must be scars.

Maybe some days, Boz re-reads some old quotes and cringes. It was Bosworth who gave us terms such as ``target vomiting,'' and ``snot bubbles.'' Bosworth once said, ``weak-side linebacker sucks larvae.''

It was Bosworth who gave us his Ten Commandments. Remember them?

1. Be yourself, or be dead. 2. Cause change. 3. Show some emotion. 4. People who hate you, hate themselves. 5. Only one face to a person. 6. Never, ever, be bored. 7. Only people you care about have opinions you care about. 8. No preaching. 9. Tell the truth. 10. Kids matter.

Pretty funny stuff, isn't it?

Two years ago, in maybe the only truly honest paragraphs of his forgettable autobiography, Bosworth offered his life's philosophy. It should have been a warning to the Seahawks.

``What I do isn't a real job,'' he wrote. ``What I'm planning on doing doesn't sound much like a real job either - reading scripts and walking to the mailbox for royalty checks. Who needs a real job anyway? . . . Being a responsible cog in society is way overrated anyway, right, home boy?

``So I'm carrying on with one of the world's great setups. And if I don't see you on the football field, I'll see you at the movies. I'll be the one in the Ferrari, laughing my (butt) off and riding into the sunset with the beautiful babe.''

Last week he quietly rode into that sunset, headed for Mississippi, where the movie he is shooting, ``The Brotherhood,'' is plagued by labor problems.

The movie's first director, Bruce Malmuth, falling into the same trap NFL scouts once fell, said Bosworth was a cross between Marlon Brando and James Dean. Malmuth was fired.

Celluloid history will tell us whether Bosworth will be the next Marlon Brando, or Marlon Perkins. He may not become another Jack Nicholson, but he already surely is The Joker.

``Football is my stage right now,'' Bosworth wrote in his autobiography, ``but when I'm done with football I'll need a new stage. I have a need to be onstage, just like an actor or a singer or a performer. I love to perform for people.''

Now, Bosworth is where he belongs. In the world of fiction. Where all the contact is faked. All of the pain is feigned. He is in a place where somebody writes his words for him.

He no longer is a Seattle Seahawk. Brian Bosworth is Hollywood's problem now.

Steve Kelley's column usually is published Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Sports section of The Times.