1987 NFL season

The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. This season featured games predominantly played by replacement players as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) players were on strike from weeks four to six. The season ended with Super Bowl XXII, with the Washington Redskins defeating the Denver Broncos 42–10 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Broncos suffered their second consecutive Super Bowl defeat.

1987 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 13, 1987 – December 28, 1987
A player's strike shortened the regular season to 15 games.
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 3, 1988
AFC ChampionsDenver Broncos
NFC ChampionsWashington Redskins
Super Bowl XXII
DateJanuary 31, 1988
SiteJack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California
ChampionsWashington Redskins
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 7, 1988
SiteAloha Stadium
Jack Murphy Stadium 1987.jpeg
The San Diego Chargers hosting a pre-season game against the Los Angeles Rams at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in 1987.

The NFLPA Strike

A 24-day players' strike was called after Week 2. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were cancelled, reducing the 16-game season to 15, but the games for Weeks 4, 5 and 6 were played with replacement players, after which the union voted to end the strike. Approximately 15% of the NFLPA’s players chose to cross picket lines to play during the strike; prominent players who did so included New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Randy White, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, 49ers running back Roger Craig, New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent.[1] The replacement players were mostly those left out of work by the recent folding of the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and the 1986 dissolution of the United States Football League, as well as others who had been preseason cuts, had long left professional football or were other assorted oddities (such as cinematographer Todd Schlopy, who, despite never playing professional football before or after the strike, served as placekicker for his hometown Buffalo Bills for three games). The replacement players, called to play on short notice and having little chance to gel as teammates, were widely treated with scorn by the press and general public, including name-calling, public shaming and accusations of being scabs. The games played by these replacement players were regarded with even less legitimacy – attendance plummeted to under 10,000 fans at many of the games in smaller markets and cities with strong union presence, including a low of 4,074 for the lone replacement game played in Philadelphia) — but nonetheless were counted as regular NFL games.[2] Final television revenues were down by about 20%, a smaller drop than the networks had expected.[3] The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants went 0–3 in replacement games, ultimately costing them a chance to make the playoffs and to repeat their championship. The final replacement game was a Monday Night Football matchup on October 19, 1987, with the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys. Along with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins were the only other NFL team not to have any players cross the picket line and were surprising 13–7 victors over the Cowboys who had plenty of big name players cross the picket line.

The 2017 film Year of the Scab, which aired as part of the ESPN series 30 for 30, documented the story of the replacement players who crossed the picket line to play for the Redskins.[4][5] A fictionalized account based on the 1987 strike formed the basis of the film The Replacements.

Stadium and location changes

The Miami Dolphins began playing at their new home, Joe Robbie Stadium. This was also the Cardinals' final season in St. Louis; the team relocated to Tempe, Arizona, the following season.

Media changes

The eight-year old ESPN cable network became the first cable television broadcaster of the league, with its program ESPN Sunday Night NFL (subsequently rebranded as ESPN Sunday Night Football) debuting on November 8, 1987, broadcasting a series of Sunday night games during the second half of the season.

Major rule changes

  • If a defensive player commits pass interference in his own end zone, the ball is placed at the 1-yard line, or if the previous spot was inside the 2-yard line, the penalty is half the distance to the goal line.
  • Except for the first onside kick attempt, if a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team takes possession of the ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick or the spot it went out of bounds.
  • In order to stop the clock, the quarterback is permitted to throw the ball out of bounds or to the ground as long as he throws it immediately after receiving the snap.
  • During passing plays, an offensive player cannot chop block (block a defender below the thigh while the defensive player is already engaging another offensive player).
  • Illegal contact by a defensive player beyond the 5-yard zone from the line of scrimmage will not be called if the offensive team is in an obvious punt formation.
  • During kicks and punts, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist. However, players on the kicking team may block below the waist, but only before the kick is made. On all other plays after a change of possession, no player can block below the waist.
  • Revenue sharing was changed so that NFL players received a portion of the ticket revenue, while the owners kept the revenue generated by skybox rentals. This led to many teams pushing for new stadiums which lowered many skybox suites from the less-desirable outer rim of a stadium to more desirable locations closer to the field (typically, the midsection or lower) so that the owners could charge more money for the suites, while similarly reducing the ticket revenue by replacing the higher-priced seats with lower-priced “nose bleed” seats. Overall, the number of available general admission seating was also reduced in favor of larger suites.

Final standings

AFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Indianapolis Colts(3) 9 6 0 .600 5–3 8–6 300 238 W2
New England Patriots 8 7 0 .533 6–2 8–4 320 293 W3
Miami Dolphins 8 7 0 .533 2–6 5–7 362 335 L1
Buffalo Bills 7 8 0 .467 4–4 6–6 270 305 L2
New York Jets 6 9 0 .400 3–5 6–5 334 360 L4
AFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Cleveland Browns(2) 10 5 0 .667 5–1 8–3 390 239 W3
Houston Oilers(4) 9 6 0 .600 5–1 7–4 345 349 W2
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 7 0 .533 2–4 6–5 285 299 L2
Cincinnati Bengals 4 11 0 .267 0–6 3–9 285 370 L3
AFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Denver Broncos(1) 10 4 1 .700 7–1 8–3 379 288 W2
Seattle Seahawks(5) 9 6 0 .600 4–3 5–6 371 314 L1
San Diego Chargers 8 7 0 .533 3–4 6–7 253 317 L6
Los Angeles Raiders 5 10 0 .333 2–6 3–8 301 289 L3
Kansas City Chiefs 4 11 0 .267 3–5 3–9 273 388 W1
NFC East
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Washington Redskins(3) 11 4 0 .733 7–1 9–3 379 285 W1
Dallas Cowboys 7 8 0 .467 4–4 5–7 340 348 W2
St. Louis Cardinals 7 8 0 .467 3–5 7–7 362 368 L1
Philadelphia Eagles 7 8 0 .467 3–5 4–7 337 380 W2
New York Giants 6 9 0 .400 3–5 4–8 280 312 W2
NFC Central
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Chicago Bears(2) 11 4 0 .733 7–0 9–2 356 282 W1
Minnesota Vikings(5) 8 7 0 .533 3–5 6–6 336 335 L1
Green Bay Packers 5 9 1 .367 3–4 4–7 255 300 L2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 11 0 .267 3–4 4–9 286 360 L8
Detroit Lions 4 11 0 .267 2–5 4–7 269 384 W1
NFC West
W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers(1) 13 2 0 .867 5–1 10–1 459 253 W6
New Orleans Saints(4) 12 3 0 .800 4–1 8–3 426 283 W9
Los Angeles Rams 6 9 0 .400 1–5 5–7 317 361 L2
Atlanta Falcons 3 12 0 .200 1–4 3–8 205 436 L3

Tiebreakers

  • Houston was the #4 seed in the AFC, winning a tiebreaker over Seattle based on better conference record (7–4 vs. Seahawks' 5–6).
  • Chicago was the #2 seed in the NFC, winning a tiebreaker over Washington based on better conference record (9–2 vs. Redskins' 9–3).
  • New England finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Dallas finished ahead of St. Louis and Philadelphia in the NFC East based on better division record (4–4 to Cardinals' 3–5 and Eagles' 3–5), and St. Louis finished ahead of Philadelphia based on better conference record (7–7 to Eagles' 4–7).
  • Tampa Bay finished ahead of Detroit in the NFC Central based on better division record (3–4 to Lions' 2–5).

Playoffs

                                   
Divisional Playoffs
    Jan. 9 – Candlestick Park        
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship
 5  Minnesota  36
Jan. 3 – Louisiana Superdome     Jan. 17 – Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
 1  San Francisco  24  
 5  Minnesota  44  5  Minnesota  10
Jan. 10 – Soldier Field
 4  New Orleans  10      3  Washington  17   Super Bowl XXII
 3  Washington  21
    Jan. 31 – Jack Murphy Stadium
 2  Chicago  17  
 N3  Washington  42
Jan. 9 – Cleveland Stadium
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship    A1  Denver  10
 3  Indianapolis  21
Jan. 3 – Astrodome     Jan. 17 – Mile High Stadium
 2  Cleveland  38  
 5  Seattle  20  2  Cleveland  33
Jan. 10 – Mile High Stadium
 4  Houston  23*      1  Denver  38  
 4  Houston  10
   
 1  Denver  34  
* Indicates overtime victory

Awards

As awarded by the Associated Press
Most Valuable Player John Elway, Quarterback, Denver
Coach of the Year Jim Mora, New Orleans
Offensive Player of the Year Jerry Rice, Wide receiver, San Francisco
Defensive Player of the Year Reggie White, Defensive end, Philadelphia
Offensive Rookie of the Year Troy Stradford, Running back, Miami
Defensive Rookie of the Year Shane Conlan, Linebacker, Buffalo
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Charles White, Running back, LA Rams
NFL Man of the Year Dave Duerson, Safety, Chicago
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Doug Williams, Quarterback, Washington

Draft

The 1987 NFL Draft was held from April 28 to 29, 1987 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde from the University of Miami.

Coaches

American Football Conference

National Football Conference

References

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1981–1990 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Merrill, Elizabeth (June 9, 2011). "NFL replacements part of history". ESPN. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  2. ^ Farnsworth, Clare (October 3, 2001). "NFL crossed the line on Replacement Sunday". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  3. ^ "N.F.L. TV Ratings Drop". The New York Times. October 9, 1987. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  4. ^ Allen, Scott (September 13, 2017). "Joe Gibbs won't say it, but 1987 Redskins replacements deserve Super Bowl rings". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  5. ^ Weber, Greta (May 26, 2017). "An ESPN Documentary About the 1987 Redskins Replacement Players Is the Ultimate Underdog Story You've Never Heard". Washingtonian. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
1987 Green Bay Packers season

The 1987 Green Bay Packers season was their 69th season overall and their 67th in the National Football League. The team posted a 5–9–1 record under coach Forrest Gregg, earning them 3rd-place finish in the NFC Central division.

The 1987 NFL season was marked by a 24-day players strike, reducing the number of games from 16 games to 15. Three games of the Packers’ season were played with replacement players, going 2–1.

The season ended with coach Forrest Gregg announcing he was leaving to fill the head coaching position at his alma mater, Southern Methodist University.

Ben Lawrence (American football)

Benjamin J. Lawrence is a former guard in the National Football League. He was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1987 NFL season.

Boris Byrd

Boris Kaelin Byrd (born April 15, 1962 in Warren County, Kentucky) is a former American football defensive back in the National Football League. He played in 3 games for the New York Giants in the 1987 NFL season. He played college football at Austin Peay State.

Charles Riggins

Charles LaCarda Riggins (born November 9, 1959) is a former defensive end in the National Football League. Riggins was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the ninth round of the 1982 NFL Draft. He would later play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 1987 NFL season.

Chuck Harris

Chuck Harris (born Charles William Harris) is a former American football player in the National Football League. He played for the Chicago Bears during the 1987 NFL season.

Ed Rubbert

Edward Rubbert (born May 28, 1964) is a former American football quarterback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins as a member of the Redskins' replacement team during the 1987 NFL players' strike. Rubbert played college football for the University of Louisville. He completed the longest pass from scrimmage in the 1987 NFL season, an 88-yard touchdown to Anthony Allen on October 4, and led the Redskins to two consecutive wins on their way to a Super Bowl XXII championship. Rubbert also started a third game only to be injured; the Redskins eventually won that game behind backup replacement quarterback Tony Robinson, and the following week the Redskins' regular players returned to the field following the end of the strike. Rubbert is now a coach for Lower Cape May Regional High School

Rubbert also played for the Albany Firebirds in the Arena Football League for three years (1991 to 1993) where he completed 42 of 96 passes for 532 yards and four touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Additionally, Rubbert was the inspiration for Keanu Reeves' character in the football movie The Replacements.

Frank Seurer

Frank Anthony Seurer (born August 16, 1962) is a former professional American football quarterback.

He played collegiate football at the University of Kansas. He played for the Los Angeles Express (USFL) in 1984 and 1985 seasons. He was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1984 NFL Supplemental Draft of USFL and CFL Players. Seurer started two games at quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1987 NFL season following the 1987 NFLPA strike.

Garland Rivers

Garland A. Rivers (born November 3, 1964) is a former professional American football defensive back who was drafted in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played briefly for the Chicago Bears in the 1987 NFL season after having starred as an All-American for the Michigan Wolverines football team for whom he set the single-game tackles record as a sophomore. This record still stands. After returning to the University of Michigan to complete his bachelor's degree, he returned to professional football for several seasons in the Arena Football League. However, before returning to professional football he became embroiled in a scandal involving sports agents engaging amateur athletes.

Gary Spann

Gary Lynn Spann (born February 3, 1963) is a former linebacker in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the tenth round of the 1986 NFL Draft. He later played with the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1987 NFL season.

Jim Meyer

Jim Meyer (born James David Meyer) is a former offensive tackle in the National Football League. Meyer played for the Green Bay Packers during the 1987 NFL season. He had previously been drafted in the seventh round of the 1986 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.

John McGarry (American football)

John McGarry is a former guard in the National Football League.

McGarry was born John Thomas McGarry on November 24, 1963 in Chicago, Illinois. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1987 NFL season. He played at the collegiate level at Saint Joseph's College.

John Sterling (American football)

John Sterling is a former running back in the National Football League. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1987 NFL season.

Kyle Borland

Kyle Borland (born July 5, 1961) was a linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams during the 1987 NFL season. He played at the collegiate level with the Wisconsin Badgers.

Lee Morris (American football)

Lee Morris is a former wide receiver in the National Football League. He played for the Green Bay Packers during the 1987 NFL season.

Maurice Turner (American football)

Maurice Turner is a former running back in the National Football League. He was drafted in the twelfth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and would play with the team during the 1984 NFL season before splitting the following season between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers. After a year away from the NFL, he was a member of the New York Jets during the 1987 NFL season.

His son, Billy Turner, was an All-American offensive lineman at North Dakota State, and is currently playing for the Green Bay Packers. Another son, Bryan Kehl, also played in the NFL.

Rydell Melancon

Rydell Joseph Melancon, (sometimes spelled Malancon), (born January 10, 1962) is a former linebacker in the National Football League. Melancon was drafted in the fourth round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played that season with the team. After two seasons away from the NFL, Melancon played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1987 NFL season. He played at the collegiate level at Louisiana State University. Melancon was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sankar Montoute

Sankar Montoute is a former linebacker in the National Football League. He played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 1987 NFL season.

Tom Boyd (gridiron football)

Thomas Barton Boyd (born November 24, 1959) is a former linebacker in the National Football League. Boyd was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the eighth round of the 1982 NFL Draft. He later played with the Detroit Lions during the 1987 NFL season.

Tom Kelleher (American football official)

Thomas "Tom" Kelleher (August 31, 1925 – March 31, 2011) was an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) for 28 years, from 1960 until the conclusion of the 1987 NFL season. Working as a back judge, Kelleher was assigned five Super Bowls; Super Bowl IV, Super Bowl VII, Super Bowl XI, Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XIX; one of five officials to reach such an achievement. He wore number 25 for the major part of his career. For 1979 through 1981, Kelleher wore the number 7. He was born in Philadelphia, and died in Miami.

Kelleher worked 10 consecutive seasons (1977-86) of his career on the crew of Jerry Markbreit, who later became the only official to work four Super Bowls (XVII, XXI, XXVI, XXIX) at the referee position. Kelleher's final season, he worked on the crew of Gordon McCarter.

1987 NFL season
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