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He came into the league with a lot of hype and left as an NFL flop. Brian Bosworth was a star at the college level, but his shine never materialized at the next level. In 1987, the Seattle Seahawks used a supplemental pick in the NFL draft to select Bosworth out of the University of Oklahoma. Only three supplemental picks were taken that year, including one big one the Seahawks passed on. The player they left on the table is widely considered the best supplemental draft selection to ever play in the NFL.

What is the supplemental draft?

The supplemental draft was instituted by the NFL in 1977 as a method of entry into the league for those who weren’t eligible for the regular draft. It is held after the traditional draft and before the season begins. It’s basically a bidding war for eligible players.

The league uses a three-tier weighted system to determine the order of the supplemental draft. Once the order is determined, teams select the player they are interested in and submit a bid. That bid is what round in which they would select the player. If a player is selected in the second round, the team selecting the player must forfeit their corresponding second-round pick in the following year’s NFL draft. 

Terrelle Pryor is a good example of a player who entered the supplemental draft. He was suspended by the NCAA for the first five games of the 2011 season and he decided to enter into the supplemental draft rather than attend school. Pryor was the only player taken in the supplemental round that year. The Oakland Raiders used a third-round selection on him.

Why Brian Bosworth was in the supplemental draft of 1987

During the 1987 Orange Bowl against Arkansas, Oklahoma’s Brian Bosworth, an All-American linebacker, was on the sideline because he had failed a steroids test. In the third quarter of the game, television cameras showed Bosworth wearing a t-shirt that read “National Communists Against Athletes,” a clear reference to the NCAA.

A source close to the OU football program told The Oklahoman that “Prior to kickoff, Bosworth was told, ‘Do not do anything to embarrass yourself, the football team or the university with your conduct on the sideline.’ “But he did, and it was direct insubordination. He had no respect for what (head coach) Barry (Switzer) told him; he did what he wanted to do. He went beyond the team. You can only go so far.

“He staged the whole thing. He upstaged the whole team and what the university was trying to accomplish. He embarrassed everybody the president, the coaches, the team, the total university in what he did.” Bosworth was then dismissed from the team.

Since Bosworth was a junior, he was eligible to be chosen in the 1987 draft. However, he did not declare before the deadline and decided to wait for the supplemental draft, which he was eligible for due to his graduation from Oklahoma one year early.

The Seahawks take Bosworth instead of Cris Carter

Prior to the 1987 supplemental draft, Brian Bosworth sent letters to various teams telling them he would not sign with that particular team. If you got a letter from Bosworth, he didn’t want to play for you. He wanted to play for a big-market team and the rumor was the Raiders were his desired destination.

The Seattle Seahawks wound up taking a shot at Bosworth despite the warning. In fact, the used a No. 1 selection on him. Bosworth, who had advised the Seahawks that he would not play for them if they drafted him, immediately threatened to sit out this season rather than ”reconsider and be hypocritical.”

Bosworth wound up playing for the Seahawks, but not very well. Only three players were taken in the 1987 supplemental round. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected defensive tackle Dan Sileo out of Miami in the third round. The Philadelphia Eagles wound up making arguably the best supplemental draft pick in history when they used a fourth-round pick to take wide receiver Cris Carter out of Ohio State. Carter went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, while Bosworth turned out to be a bust.