The Redskins had 55 for the first practice. They sought players who had been in Redskins training camp or worked in similar systems. They did not want people looking for big money or expecting jobs when the strike was over (though a few got them). They figured that if players brought enthusiasm, Gibbs' staff might be able to mold them into a respectable unit. The Redskins did not want regular players crossing the picket line. "There were some tough times and bitter feelings about missing a pay check, but we had to stay together," Jacoby said. "Joe Gibbs reinforced that. He said if people started wandering in, then we'd have problems later. We stayed together, but it wasn't easy."
Fans were in a quandry. They had difficulty sympathizing with the plight of athletes earning more than $100,000 a season. Many fans just stayed away from strike games. With only 27,728 fans at RFK, former Louisville quarterback Ed Rupert led the replacement Redskins to a 28-21 win over St. Louis, which had 11 regulars on the field. Only 9,123 were at Giants Stadium when the replacement Redskins beat the replacement Giants, 38-12.
By this point, the union was suffering from daily rank-and-file defections, at both ends of the pay spectrum, and the replacement games were making the strike impossible to sustain. "I never conceived of the possibility that they could pull off the replacement teams," Bostic said. "It certainly forced us back to work."
Eleven teams, led by the Redskins, voted to return to work even though the union said the strike was still on. When the union finally conceded, the owners tried to humiliate it, barring the regulars from playing that week. The owners claimed that they had to pay the replacement players anyway and that there wasn't enough time for the regulars to get ready. Although the union years later won back pay from the courts for that third game, Week 5 went on without them.
The Redskins had to play Dallas in that last replacement game. The Redskins, in fact, suspected that Cowboys president Tex Schramm had engineered the plan to keep the regulars out an extra week so that his Cowboys whose stars, Tony Dorsett, Danny White, Randy White and Too Tall Jones, had crossed the picket line could beat up on the Redskins replacements in the Monday Night game at Texas Stadium. But the replacement Redskins stunned the Cowboys stars, winning 13-7. Tony Robinson, who was on a work-release program from prison following a drug conviction, completed 11 of 18 passes in relief of Rupert.