Former football star's HBO film ''One Man's Justice'' heads to video this week

By Kate Meyers
July 26, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

He was once ”The Boz,” a peroxided college-football phenom, with Mohawk, maniacal tackles, and outrageous media hype. Now he’s plain ol’ Brian Bosworth — no funny hair, no attitude — just a 31-year-old guy happy to be learning how to act for the movies. ”I used to have ‘lunatic’ as part of my job description,” he says. ”Now I’m a slug who watches videos and hangs out with his wife and two daughters.” In his third starring vehicle, HBO’s One Man’s Justice, Bosworth’s hardly a slug; he’s a renegade drill sergeant out to avenge the murder of his wife and child.

Not that his attempts to make it as an action hero have surprised anyone. ”He’s Madonna with a chin strap,” says Rick Reilly, coauthor of Bosworth’s 1988 autobiography, The Boz. ”He’s spent most of his brains marketing himself, and he’s always wanted to be a superhero.” So after he left football in 1989 (forced to retire because of degenerative arthritis three years into a 10-year, $11 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks), it was time to field a new career.

Take 2: Bosworth bares biceps and black bikini as an undercover cop who infiltrates a biker gang in the 1991 actioner Stone Cold. The title, however, more aptly described the film’s box office performance (it made $8 million domestically). So the ex-jock spent the next five years keeping a low profile; he made the HBO movie Blackout and recovered from six shoulder surgeries.

Now Bosworth — who says he started acting in sixth grade to get out of a test — has just wrapped Back in Business, an action comedy costarring Def Comedy Jam fave Joe Torry. ”I’m more surprised than anything that I’m okay [at acting],” he says.

Talk to the former middle linebacker about his Hollywood sojourn and the gridiron comparisons fly: ”It’s all about performance, focus, intensity, work ethic. It’s also a team game.” And, of course, he’s got a game plan to go with it. ”The first three films were like going to college,” he says. ”Back in Business is like my rookie year. The key is to make sure I don’t get hurt.”