I remember it like it was yesterday. In 1987, the NFL was on strike and the owners hired replacement players. It was such a bad idea, but it was fun theatre to see it all break down the way it did.
Players played through two weeks and then they went on strike. Week three was canceled and then we were all treated to the “replacement players”.
Weeks four, five and six were played with players who weren’t good enough to play in the NFL and eventually some high profile NFL players did cross the picket line including Doug Flutie (Patriots), Mark Gastineau (Jets), Joe Montana (49ers), Roger Craig (49ers), Randy White (Cowboys), Steve Largent (Seahawks). Pat Ryan (Jets) eventually crossed too. They all caught a lot of flak, but they didn’t care.
Philadelphia had a huge drop in attendance, they had just over 4,000 one game. The Giants were the defending Super Bowl champs and they went 0-3 during that period and it cost them. That’s crazy just to think about it. In 2018, the Redskins gave the replacement players Super Bowl Rings! Seriously?
The Jets starting Quarterback was David Norrie (out of UCLA, had a 50.1 pass completion percentage and had 1 touchdown and four interceptions, and a 48.4 QBR) and their backup was Walter Briggs (he played in one game and threw two passes one for an interception). Ryan won the third replacement game. He was from Montclair State. The Jets regulars harassed them at their hotel. The replacements had a public practice at Eisenhower Park. There was a lot of craziness during this time. Fans of the 49ers dubbed their team the “Phoney-Niners”.
If the NFL season stops after the 2020-21 season, that would blow the door wide open for some of these players to join the XFL, they startup this February and I’m willing to bet more than a few players will just play with them, especially if they are backups or have one season left in their career. Would a star play in the XFL? If they’re in debt they will. That could be the most interesting part of all of this. The CFL will get an influx of players for sure. The XFL could be the big winner if the NFL has a work stoppage. Imaging the PR Vince McMahon will pump out there if he gets anyone from the NFL.
photo by del Tufo