In 1987 NFL players went on strike, demanding better pay and the right to seek free agency. Determined to keep the league going, teams pulled replacements from wherever they could—from the semi-pros to bar stools, in order to create makeshift teams. Three-Week Professionals: Inside the 1987 NFL Players’ Strike finally tells their stories.
Veteran sportswriter Kluck recalls the drama and miscues of the 1987 NFL Players strike, when the owners put anyone who could suit up on the gridiron to give the fans their Sunday spectacle. As a boy of 11, he worshipped the National Football League mystique and its legendary players, and was stunned by the 24-day work stoppage as the teams demanded a better wage and the right to seek free agency. Kluck's wandering narrative captures the true spirit of the hapless recruiting methods of the "scab" squads, the union's hardball tactics, the public's refusal to accept the game's amateurs, and the owners' reluctance to negotiate. Kluck profiles some of the strike breakers, including football vets Mark Gastineau and Lawrence Taylor and even future rap exec Marion "Suge" Knight, and concludes the quality of play was "painful to watch, with fumbles, bad punt snaps and dropped passes." This very slight read, with its sketchy recaps of poorly played replacement games, will leave the typical NFL fan cold.