- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
1987 Redskins: A team, indivisible
Washington stood united, forged bond for Super Bowl championship
Question of the Day
Joe Gibbs‘ stomach was rumbling when he emerged from the Washington Redskins coaches’ meeting Saturday night, Oct. 3, 1987. He was, by his own admission, “kind of snarly anyway” because it was the night before a game against the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. On that occasion, however, Gibbs was even more anxious than usual.
In a few hours, he would lead a team of replacement players that had been cobbled together during the previous 10 days in the face of a strike by the NFL players union. Instead of Doug Williams to Art Monk, Gibbs was contemplating Ed Rubbert to Anthony Allen.
The remedy for Gibbs‘ pre-game angst was a critical part of his Saturday routine. A hamburger at the team’s nighttime snack was comfort food. The Redskins were a veteran team back then with many players who could afford to eat out on their own. So while players usually noshed ice cream or some such treat before bed, there would be hamburgers left over when Gibbs straggled out of his meeting.
That night, though, all the penny-pinching replacement players turned snack time into a free meal.
“There wasn’t a crumb left in the entire snack room,” Gibbs recalled this week through his characteristic cackle. “It looked like the locust had hit the place. I turned to [assistant general manager] Bobby Mitchell and said: ‘I WANT MY HAMBURGER!’ And he took off running.”
The Redskins‘ burger supply was just one of several team elements tested during that 24-day strike. Unity and leadership were others, as Redskins union members picketed outside team headquarters and RFK Stadium while replacement players from off the street took their jobs.
And although the use of replacements in 1987 resulted in some significant differences between that work stoppage and the current NFL lockout, the Redskins‘ survival and eventual Super Bowl title that year provide some lessons applicable to today’s team.
“Especially in Washington, D.C., that was one of our goals, to stay solid, to stay as one,” former Redskins guard R.C. Thielemann said. “You saw some of the stars that crossed the picket line in Dallas and other teams. It’s tough to do, but we did it. I think in the long run that kind of stuff pays off. Football is a team thing, and it always has been.”
Message of unity
On the morning of Sept. 21, 1987, players reported to Redskins Park to clean out their lockers. Before they left there and went to union representative Neal Olkewicz’s house to vote on whether to strike, Gibbs gathered everyone for some parting words.
“Guys, whatever you all decide to do, do it together,” Jacoby remembered. “Do it, everybody. If one crosses [the picket line], that breaks everything.”
On the strike’s first day, almost every player on the roster picketed outside team headquarters. Some wore sandwich boards and others held signs promoting the players’ causes. At the core was their desire for a less restrictive free agency system.
“We needed the choice to work where we like, just like every American,” Jacoby said. “We did not have that.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- REDSKINS 2013: Breaking down the schedule, game by game
- NFL 2013: Ranking all 32 teams in terms of staying power
- REDSKINS 2013: Washington seeks staying power among NFL's elite
- With no blueprint, Redskin Hankerson seeks success as dad
- Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson learning to manage family life with football career
Latest Blog Entries
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Selfie at heart of Obama fiasco to stay secret
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow