1987 was a tumultuous year for the National Football League. The players went on strike two games into the season and after cancelling the Week 3 games, owners decided to play several games with replacement players. Tensions between the picketing players and the “scab” players were pretty high, so when the Washington Redskins ended the year by winning the Super Bowl, their replacements largely went forgotten in the aftermath. On Tuesday, the team decided to honor those players by giving them Super Bowl rings for that season in a ceremony at Redskins Park.
The rumblings of support for honoring the replacement players began last year when Dexter Manley and Darryl Grant said the replacements should get rings in ESPN’s 30 for 30 “The Year of the Scab”. Since then, other players have voiced their support for the idea including current senor vice president of player personnel Doug Williams. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly told ESPN that the climate is better now to be able to honor those players.
“There’s no way in the climate in 1987 you could give them rings. There was tremendous animosity. No player stood up and said they should be recognized. … It evolved over time; a number of our players stood up and said they should — some of our high-profile players. I evolved with it. I always felt they needed to be recognized.”
The replacement players were a big part of Washington’s run that year, winning all three games they played leaving the team with a 4-1 record when the rest of the players crossed the picket line. According to the ESPN piece, the replacement players did receive a playoff share (approximately $27,000) at the time, but were never given rings.
A major Hollywood motion picture was made based on the Redskins replacement players starring Keanu Reeves, aptly titled “The Replacements”.