One-on-One: Catching up with 'The Boz'

James Hale recently had a chance to catch up with the former OU great Brian Bosworth to get the latest on his movie career, shoulder replacement surgery and Oklahoma football

James Hale recently had a chance to catch up with the former Sooner great linebacker.

After all these years, do you still pull for the Sooners all the way out in California?

I constantly get into arguments with my friends, because all the people out here are in stuck in "La-La" land and on the Pac-10.

Many people don't realize the admiration and loyalty that I have for the Oklahoma people and Oklahoma University.

They like to believe they play the real sport out here, but every time that the Big 12 and Pac-10 strap it up the more physical teams end up beating the more finesse-like teams.

Talk about your re-occurring shoulder problems and recent replacement surgery you just underwent

I suffered a shoulder injury in Seattle my last game of my rookie year. We didn't really know how severe it was until the latter part of the second year. We knew at that point and time there was eventually going to have to be a replacement in that joint. It was just a matter of time, and frankly, the doctors didn't want to deal with it because I was way too young to be a candidate for a replacement.

And using the right shoulder to compensate for the left shoulder, and dislocating that a couple of times in my second and third year, caused that shoulder to start deteriorating at a rapid rate. Over the course of the last 10 years I've had maybe 10 shoulder surgeries to maintain the quality of life and function while I'm trying to do movies out here.

The last couple of years it had gotten to the point where my quality of life was really spiraling down. I was not able to do the things in a normal capacity that I would like to do, especially for somebody my age. So, I bit the bullet and found the right guy, the only guy that I would really consider to do the shoulders. This time last year I replaced the right one, and six months later they went in and replaced the left one.

It's actually been a blessing because the pain has been alleviated to almost nothing. Right now, it's a matter of re-educating muscles and tendons and trying to get the full range of motion. With ten years of nonfunctional shoulders, your muscles tend to hold on a little bit harder to compensate so they don't hurt themselves. I'm just trying to get my body back to where it was.

It's ahead of schedule and I'm very pleased with the progress. I've actually been able to get into the gym and my wife commented to me the other day, ‘You better slow down or you'll look like the meathead you did in college.'

I'm putting a lot of muscle back on and I'm starting to look like I used to play ball again.

So you're getting that "Boz" physique back again?

Yeah, I'm starting to look like that Adonis I used to look like.

You play a lot of action roles in movies. So it must be really important for you to get persona back you had when first went to Hollywood?

You've got to fit the part. Nobody is going to hire me to kiss a lady. They want me to be killing the guy trying to kiss her.

I understand the concept out here. It's a funny business out here anyway. You've got to put yourself in the best position to land these gigs. I was very fortunate over the last ten years to be the star of my own vehicles, granted they were all smaller movies. Just being able to in a position to be in a film, given the fact that I wasn't physically able to do some of the things the script was calling for, frustrated me because I like to do my own stunts.

I think I got tested when I was doing ‘Stone Cold' because I was right out of Seattle, and I was still fairly big and my bravado and ego was still enormously big. I was able to go in there and do my own stunts, but that was a very, very physical film. I was a bit spoiled because I wanted to do my own stunts and do my own fight scenes. Probably in the next six months I'll be physically able, without worry, to go out and do the things I expect of myself.

What projects do you have on the backburner?

The last project I did was "Dean Cane". I don't if that's one has been released yet. We did that one about two weeks before my shoulder surgery last year. This year, I've basically put all of my projects on hold. Just two weeks I turned down a project done by one of the Coppola brothers that was directing a film. I just felt that I wasn't ready to go in and test the shoulders yet.

I just want to make sure I do the right thing. It took me 12 years to get these things in and I wasn't going to go in after 12 weeks and knock them back out again.

I just need to be patient. God's always taken care of me and my family. I just need to make sure that I follow the path that I'm on and it will work out the way it is supposed to work out.

Have your shoulders been in pain since you were at Oklahoma?

I was comfortable at Oklahoma and I was comfortable at Seattle. It was really that second year when the discomfort started. It didn't get to be intense until the latter part of my second year. Since then it had been fairly intense on a daily basis from about 1989.

I've never been one of those guys that's decided I'll mass the pain by taking pain-killers. I had to learn to live with the discomfort of it. I don't know many football players that have played the game, that walk away from the game not hurt. I just realized that this is the crutch of the cross I'm going to bear.

If you look back at the things I was able accomplish, and the goals I was able to achieve and the friends I was able to make, in my mind it was a very small sacrifice. Even though you're sacrificing a couple of joints, the memories that I have playing the game and the high that I've gotten on the field is something I've never been able to match in any endeavor that I've taken. I think it's well worth it and I wouldn't change anything that I have done, other then be a little smarter about my body.

OU just lost a great instinctive player to the NFL Draft in Roy Williams. One of your strengths in college was that you had great instincts, which is something not ever great player is born with.

It (instinct) also comes from being able to watch a lot of film and communicating with your coaches and other players. Football teams have tendencies and tendencies aren't broken in one week, especially in college football. The college football programs' gameplans are designated early on in the season and usually don't change until the bowl game, when they try and throw a little twist at you.

I was very, very fortunate. We had extremely intelligent players, but we also had extremely intelligent coaches. I think my coach back then was one of the brightest guys I've every been around in Coach Gary Gibbs. He just emphasized to watch a lot of film and understand what the teams are trying to do to you. Once you get that down you understand what they're trying to do and you can almost read their minds. And from that point forward it's just about inflicting as much pain as possible. You just want to hit them as hard as you can.

When I watched Roy over the last couple of years, he just loves to hit people and I think that's why he was the No. 1 pick of the Dallas Cowboys, and I think deservedly so.

Talk about playing on one of the greatest defenses in College football history at OU I always bragged about when I played back in the 80's. There has never been a team that dominated the defensive tempo of a football game the way our defensive unit did.

That just pays tribute to the kind of players we had on that side of the ball. We had them two-deep. We were just work-a-holics. We had so much pride in going out there and not just shutting teams down, but getting that three-and-out mentality and to just dominate. We wanted to make a statement.

I think it was more a competition between our defensive club and our offensive club. Our offensive club had that same type of mentality, and the coaches feared putting us both on the practice field at the same time during scrimmages because they knew they were going to get fights.

We had so much pride in ourselves that we couldn't swallow the fact that one side of the ball was better, stronger and more dominant then the other. I think we fed off each other competitively, and fortunately we loved each other off the field. I think it worked to our benefit.

Was there a main instrument as to why Oklahoma turned it around in ‘84 after the four straight sub-par seasons?

I think it started in 1983 when Coach Switzer stepped up. He wasn't happy with the performance of Oklahoma football and he came up to me and set down and said, "Boz, I need you to play for me like a senior next year. I want you to lead us to the promised land we were once accustomed too.' I took that as a personal challenge for me to step up and be that leader.

Going into spring ball that next season, you could just feel the injection of youth and enthusiasm that was on that field. Everybody wanted to prove that they could be a starter. I think they felt, at that time, that the old Sooners of the early 80's were 8-3 and coming in second in the Big Eight was okay. We just didn't accept that. I came to Oklahoma to win Big Eight championships and for a shot at the national championship. I knew going to Oklahoma was my best shot and once we started that 1984 season against Stanford I believe that excitement was like a dog backed into a corner. He was either going to lift his leg and pee on himself, or he was going to come out fighting. We had a bunch of fighters and we were going to go out there and prove that this Oklahoma team was going to set the standard and mark that the Oklahoma teams that made us proud when we chose to sign that letter of intent.

When you look back, are you still angry you didn't get to end your career at OU on a more positive note?

I don't know of any young kids that haven't made mistakes, and I don't know any old people that haven't made mistakes. Mistakes are made and things are put in front of us for a reason. This obstacle course we run through are lessons and lessons learned. Unfortunately, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got caught by the wrong people.

I never denied it and decided I wouldn't hide behind it, but accept it and move forward. I didn't dwell too much on it. It was part of life back then. Unfortunately, I read something in the paper the other day about tennis pro John McEnroe and his history during his great days.

I think people need to accept the reality that sports stars take steroids. They took them back then, they're taking them today and they'll be taking them in the days to come. It's just part of the game.

I didn't get a chance to play in the Arkansas game, but the unfortunate thing is I made a very, very poor choice on the sideline with unveiling that stupid shirt of mine. I think a lot of people got a big kick out of it and a lot of people were very offended by it. I was very embarrassed about it because of the way that I put my university in the forefront. I stepped in front of their tradition and honor, and did something that I'm still embarrassed about.

If I opened eyes out there that the NCAA does handcuff its players and they do some things that are particularly unfair to the athletes. If that's the only thing that came out of it then I applaud that. But that was the wrong venue and wrong format in which to due that.

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