As the NFL feud continues over the CBA we the fans sit and wait and hope for good news. We read the countless articles and watch the never ending news reports on TV. No one knows for sure when a new agreement will come except for the people sitting in those meetings. It’s the NFL owner’s vs the NFL players, The Hatfield’s vs The McCoy’s, The Jets vs The Sharks (West Side Story reference), The Flintstones vs The Hatrocks. Ok, so maybe I went a little too far with The Flintstones reference.
All of this brings me back to 1982 and 1987 when the NFL stopped. As a fan I really don’t care about what the differences are between the two sides and I would never pretend that I understand. What I do know is that these owners and players make millions and billions of dollars and the fact that they can’t come to an agreement is amazing to me. I live a simple life and support my family the best I can as I live paycheck to paycheck, but these people can’t seem to agree on how to share billions of dollars? Hello! Reality check please!!!
As for the 1982 NFL strike, it was the first time as a fan I experienced no football when there should be football. I don’t remember why it happened or what the problems were, but I do remember that after week 2 of the season everything came to a halt. As for the Cowboys they had started the season with a crushing defeat to the Steelers on Monday Night Football, 36-28. Then they evened their record at 1-1 the next week with a 24-7 win over the Cardinals.
Here is the cover of Sports Illustrated a week after the strike started.
On September 21, 1982 the NFL stopped playing football and stadiums went dark. The strike lasted 57 long days and ended up cancelling seven regular season games. I remember coming home from school every day and trying to find out any news. Of course this was before computers, cell phones, NFL Network or Twitter. As a fan there was a feeling that I would never see football again. Then on November 16, 1982 the strike finally ended and football was back, but because of the length of the strike and the number of games cancelled the NFL made some changes. The 1982 season would be a nine game season and all divisions would be ignored. The NFL went with just the AFC and the NFC and the top eight teams in each conference would qualify for the playoffs.
The Cowboys finished 1982 with a 6-3 record and was the second seed in the playoffs behind the 8-1 Redskins, who they would eventually lose to in the NFC Championship game. The Redskins went on to beat the Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII, 27-17.
Then once again in 1987 after week 2 all football stopped with another strike. The Cowboys started the season with a 24-13 loss to the Cardinals. Then in week 2 they beat the Giants 16-14 to even their record at 1-1. One of the differences with the 1987 strike compared to the 1982 strike was that only one week was cancelled. Football stopped on September 21, 1987 and started up again on October 4, 1987. The other major difference was that when football started again two weeks later it was with players most people had never heard of before.
The NFL owners prepared themselves for a strike in 1987 even before the regular season started. They fielded replacement teams while the NFL players were striking outside stadiums across the country. Some teams prepared better then others to get their replacement teams in place. Teams brought in recently cut players, retired players and undrafted college players. Just like in 1982 I could not tell you why the strike was happening or what the issues were. All I knew as a young fan was that the Cowboys were playing football and I needed to get to know the new players.
The NFL would play three replacement games before the strike ended and everyone went back to work. During those three replacement games the Cowboys went 2-1 with wins over the Jets and Eagles and a loss to the Redskins. Some NFL players decided they were not going strike during the replacement games and crossed the picket lines. Players like Lawrence Taylor, Randy White, Danny White, Tony Dorsett, Mark Gastineau, Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Dwight Clark and Howie Long as well as many others. There were only three teams that did not have one of their players cross the picket lines and they were the Redskins, Bears and Chargers.
The NFL decided to count the replacement games once all the players came back and they played a 15 game schedule in 1987. As for the Cowboys, the season was not one to remember as they went 7-8 and missed the playoffs. Just like in 1982 the Redskins went on to win it all as they beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, 42-10.
Now here we are in 2011 and another NFL work stoppage is hanging in the air. As fans there is nothing we can do. We watch and we wait for good news and hopefully the good news comes well before the season. There won’t be any replacement games this time around. Just dark, empty stadiums as time continues to tick away. Hey, do I still have to pay for my Sunday Ticket package if the season is interrupted? Do I get money off if the season starts late? I guess that is another post at another time.
Let’s all hope for the best as this feud continues and that the people involved in the negotiations can come to an agreement before things get bad. The NFL’s popularity is at an all time high right now and last thing that is needed is a lockout. I’m sure there is a way to share the billions of dollars that they are fighting over. Just get it done so football is not ruined.