- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

David Windham sat on the edge of his seat, anticipating the moment his name would be called.

When he had heard that former Washington Redskins replacement players would be awarded Super Bowl rings in alphabetical order for their part in the 1987 season, filling in for three games during a 24-day strike, he groaned, knowing he’d be toward the end. Windham had already waited 31 years. Now, he was minutes away from placing the long-coveted Super Bowl ring on his finger.

“Heart’s pumping,” the one-time linebacker, now 57, said.

Finally, former general manager Charley Casserly called out his name, and a beaming Windham made his way to the stage. On Tuesday, Washington recognized the “replacements” — the strikebreakers who crossed the picket line to chase their NFL dreams — with Super Bowl rings, cementing their place in history.

Once Windham returned to his chair, he pretended to throw away the ring box.

“It’s never going in there,” he said, before slipping on the ring with a sigh. His frustration during a 31-year wait vanished when the jewelry settled on his left hand. “Poof, it don’t even exist anymore.”

Along with Casserly, former regular roster stars Doug Williams, Dexter Manley and Gary Clark took the stage, thanking the replacements for their part in the title run. Many regulars had once formed a picket line outside old Redskins Park in Herndon, Virginia, and defensive lineman Darryl Grant punched out a window on the bus of “scabs.”

But time heals, and shortcomings then were rectified Tuesday.

“It kind of brings us back into the Redskins family, whereas back in the day, they swept us under the rug and they wanted all the credit for winning the Super Bowl themselves,” replacement safety Skip Lane, now 58, said. “I’m glad they finally acknowledged that we were a part of that and we were members of the Redskins in those three games where we beat their conference rivals. So, yeah, it’s great. And they’ve embraced us and helped the drive to get the ring.”

Circumstances were different 31 years ago as the NFL players association sought improvements for the players, Williams, now 62, said.

“We weren’t so much caught up in what they were doing as much as what was going on with the league,” Williams said. “It’s hard to blame guys who get a chance to play in the league. For me, it was about the NFL.”

 When replacement defensive back Charles Jackson had his name called, he unfurled his No. 37 Redskins jersey and displayed it to raucous cheers. The memories made wearing that uniform stick with him today.

Windham, Lane and Jackson were three of 26 replacement players in attendance at Redskins Park. Those players included Obed Ariri, kicker; Keiron Bigby, wide receiver; Derek Bunch, linebacker; Mark Carlson, tackle; Joe Cofer, defensive back; John Cowne, center; Eric Coyle, center; Alec Gibson, defensive end; Allen Harvin, running back; Ted Karras, defensive tackle; Jon Kimmel, linebacker; Phil Pettey, guard; Tony Robinson, quarterback; Anthony Sagnella, defensive tackle; Tony Settles, linebacker; Willard Scissum, tackle/guard; Jack Stanley, quarterback; Henry Waechter, defensive end/tackle; Eric Wilson, linebacker; Wayne Wilson, running back; Mike Wooten, center; Jack Weil, punter; and Craig McEwen, tight end, who received a ring in 1987.

Tuesday’s ring ceremony was meant to underscore the role the 1987 replacement players had in Washington’s run to the Super Bowl.

“Better late than never,” Jackson, now 56, said. “Receiving this ring … makes us feel really part of the Redskin family.”

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