Thirty years later, the Redskins’ replacement players will receive the Super Bowl rings many have long thought they deserved.
Quarterback Tony Robinson and defensive lineman Anthony Sagnella, two of the replacement players who led Washington to a 3-0 record during the 24-day standoff between the NFL players’ union and the league in 1987, were at the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday. They were presented with a copy of House Joint Resolution No. 151, which commended the Redskins’ replacements for their “critical role in the team’s Super Bowl-winning season.”
The best news of Robinson and Sagnella’s visit to Richmond came from Redskins President Bruce Allen, who told them that all of the replacement players from the 1987 team would receive Super Bowl rings “this spring.” The exact date for the celebration has yet to be announced.
“Tears were in my eyes,” Robinson, the former Tennessee star who led the Redskins to a win over the Cowboys on “Monday Night Football” in the replacements’ last game, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Thirty-some years later, but hey, better late than never. It’s a good feeling, a real good feeling. To be called Super Bowl champion, a lot of people can’t say that. And a lot of people can’t say they have a Super Bowl ring. It’s a big accomplishment. I was just so happy and blessed to be a part of that. I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life. It’s a great honor.”
“The 3-0 record of the Redskins replacement players was part of the remarkable success of the 1987 Washington Redskins,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a release. “Their contributions are part of Redskins history and represent an integral reason why a Lombardi Trophy from the 1987 campaign resides in our facility today. Thanks in part to the generosity of our partners on this project, we are happy to honor these players for their role in that World Championship.”
In September, ESPN premiered its “30 for 30” documentary “Year of the Scab,” which told the story of the replacement players who crossed the picket line to play for the Redskins during the three-week labor dispute. Most of the replacement players were released when the strike ended after Week 6, and only those who remained on the roster and played in at least one more game received a ring following Washington’s 42-10 win over Denver in Super Bowl XXII.
“I don’t have a ring,” replacement safety Skip Lane said in the documentary. “It was an owner’s decision, and he decided not to give us a ring. You know the guy who parks the cars at Redskins Park got a ring? The girl who answers the phone up front got a ring.”
“I was at the White House. I shook Ronald Reagan’s hand,” replacement center Eric Coyle said. “I had no reason to believe I wasn’t getting a ring, until the ring fittings had come and gone and nobody checked me.”
Director John Dorsey told The Washington Post that he hoped Redskins management would see the film and finally honor the 1987 replacements, who were denied rings by the late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke. Mission accomplished. The team says it worked closely with Dorsey “and a number of key partners throughout the last several months to make the rings a reality.”
The Redskins were the only franchise without a regular player who crossed the picket line, a fact that members of the team remain proud of 30 years later. Still, several regulars have supported the idea of the replacement players receiving Super Bowl rings in recent months.
“At first I was opposed to them getting rings, but later on, it was like, ‘Those guys contributed; they won three games for us,’ ” linebacker Ravin Caldwell told The Post in September. “They should get them just for beating Dallas.”
“If they get rings, I’m very happy for them,” Darryl Grant, who was among the players most vehemently opposed to the so-called scabs when they first crossed the picket line, said in “Year of the Scab.”
“I take my hat off to those guys for coming in and doing something they wanted to do,” Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII MVP and the Redskins’ vice president of player personnel, said in January. “They all wanted to play in the National Football League. They got a chance, and what they did was just remarkable — to be able to go undefeated, beat the Giants and beat Dallas with some of their players back. You have to take your hat off. As far as rings, I think that’d be up to the people who were purchasing the rings.”
Better late than never.
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