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|
|Duration||September 13, 1987 – December 28, 1987|
|A player's strike shortened the regular season to 15 games.|
|Start date||January 3, 1988|
|AFC Champions||Denver Broncos|
|NFC Champions||Washington Redskins|
|Super Bowl XXII|
|Date||January 31, 1988|
|Site||Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California|
|Date||February 7, 1988|
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. 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. Final television revenues were down by about 20%, a smaller drop than the networks had expected. 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. A fictionalized account based on the 1987 strike formed the basis of the film The Replacements.
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.
|Jan. 9 – Candlestick Park|
|NFC Wild Card Game||NFC Championship|
|Jan. 3 – Louisiana Superdome||Jan. 17 – Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium|
|Jan. 10 – Soldier Field|
|4||New Orleans||10||3||Washington||17||Super Bowl XXII|
|Jan. 31 – Jack Murphy Stadium|
|Jan. 9 – Cleveland Stadium|
|AFC Wild Card Game||AFC Championship||A1||Denver||10|
|Jan. 3 – Astrodome||Jan. 17 – Mile High Stadium|
|Jan. 10 – Mile High Stadium|
|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|
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.
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