Plain and simple, Brian Bosworth is the best college linebacker Scott Ferrall has ever seen. Bosworth, who played at Oklahoma in the mid-1980s, was a two-time All-American and was, in the words of Ferrall, “sickening, ferocious and quick – and violent.” If you had the ball, Bosworth was going to hit you. Hard. It was like watching a tornado play on the field.
But that only tells part of the story. In fact, ESPN chronicles Bosworth’s outsized and outlandish personality in Brian and the Boz, a “30 for 30” installment that airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.
Yes, behind the wild haircuts and large sunglasses was a man who struggled in his personal life, especially in terms of his relationship with his father.
“That was the hardest part of the process,” Bosworth said on Ferrall on the Bench. “When he passed away, we had gone years and years in silence and never had an opportunity to sit down and talk openly and transparently about the difference between Brian his son and Brian the athlete. It just felt emptiness, hollow, hopeless that I would never get answers. He was just a difficult man to live with. He had his moments and I can’t blame him. I never knew his father. So I think his toolbox didn’t contain the emotional tools that it required to be a loving father.
“He was always there,” Bosworth continued. “He wasn’t an absent father. If anything, he was too much there. He had to coach every team that I ever played on when I was young – and it’s not like (I got special treatment where I didn’t have to run laps or) do the Oklahoma drill. I never got a break. He made it very clear that it was never going to be that way. He pushed me constantly to the point of (quitting). I just can’t do it anymore. But he would reel me back just enough so the sore would scab over, and then he would push me a little bit more so that the scab would peel off and it would get raw and then he’d pull me back a little bit more.
“I don’t think he did it with the intent to damage me psychologically – because again, I don’t think he had those tools. I think he was just living the frustration of not having the father in his life so he was over-fathering me. But I think his love was the idea of an athlete, not the idea of a son. That’s the thing that really haunted me for years. And in the film when I say that I left home to go to Oklahoma, I never came back. I never came back to him, either. It was like, I’m leaving because I can’t be in the same place with you – because you’re in a place that I don’t ever want to be in.
“But then fast-forward, I ended up being in the exact same place because those were the seeds that were inside of me. I didn’t know anything else. So I was repeating the same thing, and I had 25 years of torture of myself when I lost my career, and my kids had to sit and watch it. It was difficult for them; it was difficult for me. But sometimes, God works in strange ways. I had to be patient with it. I finally was able to break down the prison that had been built around me that I could stand in front of my son and talk to him about how much I honestly loved him.”