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“One of Our Running Backs Is Missing”

S3 E8

Production 43001
Original Airdate: November 2, 1975
SMDM 308 Running Backs Jump
Steve avoids tackle.
Produced by
Kenneth Johnson
Written by
Kenneth Johnson
and Elroy Schwartz
Directed by
Lee Majors
Guest Cast
Guest Star(s)
Larry Csonka as Larry Bronco
Pamela Csonka as Pam Bronco
Dick Butkus as Bobby La Port
Mike Henry as Tatashore
Carl Weathers as Stolar
Al Checco as George Yokum
Les Josephson as Rick La Port
Russ Grieve as Coach
Earl Faison as Ailes
Russ McGinn as Ernie
Tom Mack as Kibbie
Broadcast Order
Season 3
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"Target in the Sky" "The Bionic Criminal"


On the day before an important football game at the Rose Bowl, star running back Larry Bronco is drugged and kidnapped by Bobby La Port, a disgruntled over-the-hill fellow player. His plan is to keep Bronco out of the game, thus affecting the final score. This will enable the La Port and his gang of kidnappers to make a fortune betting on the pre-game point spread. Steve Austin locates Bronco and together they take on the kidnappers in a titanic "scrimmage."

Memorable Quotes[]

Larry Bronco: What are you doing to keep fit?
Steve Austin: You think I'm looking flabby?
Larry: I'm not talking about how you look, I'm asking what kind of shape you're in; what's under your skin?
Steve: You'd be surprised.

Rick La Port: You gotta trust me. This is a hand picked crew, all guys I met in prison and they're beautiful.

Steve: Oscar, you were a public prosecutor in this town. You must know a good bookie.
Oscar: Me? Me know a good bookie? Are you crazy?
Steve: Oscar.
Oscar: Well...

George Yokum: I'll tell you Mr. Austin, Goldie (referring to Oscar) is one beautiful guy.
Steve: Goldie?

Larry: This is another fine mess you've gotten me into.
Steve: Hey, relax, Larry, we're going to bust out of here.
Larry: Sure, we are, all we got to do is cream those four guys on the field, then take of their friends with the rifles.
Steve: Look, you want to try or spend the rest of your life dead?

Steve: That truck, Larry, is our ticket to freedom.
Larry: Might as well be the moon.
Steve: Yeah, well, I've been to the moon. It's not as far as you think, pal.


SMDM 308 Running Backs Directed

Lee Majors' 'Directed by' title card.

  • Lee Majors directed this episode, his first and only.
  • Nielsen ranking for the week ending November 2, 1975 — 10th.
  • During 1975, Larry Csonka was playing in the World Football League for the Memphis Southmen. Less than two weeks before this episode aired, the WFL folded midseason on October 22, 1975.
  • Tatashore mentions that Larry Bronco was named MVP in Super Bowl VII, while in real life, Larry Csonka was named MVP in Super Bowl VIII.
  • Csonka was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and his #39 was retired by the Miami Dolphins in 2002. In the episode, Larry Bronco is wearing #39 on his jersey.
  • Dick Butkus retired from the Chicago Bears and the NFL due to knee injuries; a problem he shares with his on-screen character. Rather than rigging the point spread to secure his financial future, Butkus filed a lawsuit against the Bears in 1975.
  • Larry Bronco and Steve Austin played football in high school together and played a championship game against rival Stowe High School. In real life, Larry Czonka attended Stow High School in Ohio.


  • Tatashore observes Steve running at Bionic speed. From his POV Steve is moving in fast motion. This is another example of how he appears to others when running, consistent with how he is observed in "Nuclear Alert." Fast motion is regularly used for other, smaller tasks or Pocket Bionics as when Steve and Jaime do housework or remove nuts and bolts, or handwrite (e.g. "Survival of the Fittest," "Fly Jaime,")
  • Ironically, all the plays in the final football game are presented in slow-motion. Only sound effects and high jumps differentiate Steve from everybody else.
  • According to The Bionic Book by Herbie J. Pilato, and later explained by executive producer, Harve Bennett, it was NFL Films' use of slow-motion that inspired producers to adopt it as a primary visual effect for the show.


  • Oscar Goldman was a public prosecutor in Pasadena. He is affectionately referred to as "Goldie" by George Yokum, a "bookie" he once prosecuted.
  • Steve Austin and Larry Bronco went to high school together and played on the football team. On the night before the championship game in their senior year, they posted taunting signs in front of Stowe High School, home of the opposing team. But Stowe ended up beating them 60-0.
  • Doyle's Den is a "bookie" bar in Pasadena.


  • Larry says he bought a ranch near his hometown in Ohio. Unless he grew up there before attending high school with Steve, is hometown should be Ojai.
  • Larry says to Steve, "Hey, Steve, now that these guys can recognize us, I don't think they're going to turn us loose." Steve replies, "How right you are." But Czonka got his sentence mixed up; he should have said, "now that we can recognize them...


  • Steve uses bionic strength when bowling and subsequently smashes the pins to pieces. Targeting the pins with his bionic eye would have been sufficient to win the game, as demonstrated in his tennis match against another old friend, Fred Sloan in "Day of the Robot."


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