SI Vault
Jill Lieber
October 12, 1987
In one city the NFLPA enjoyed almost too much support
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October 12, 1987

'it's Our Strike'

In one city the NFLPA enjoyed almost too much support

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"Sir, the officers will escort you in there," the policeman said, "but you'll have to endure this."

With that, the fan dashed through a side entrance. "Look at the scab run!" somebody yelled. "He's scared!"

Eight mounted police moved in to part the masses. Two union men refused to move. Spagnola tried to reason with them. "This is our strike," he cried. Finally the pair stood back.

Several Eagles formed a gauntlet, forcing fans to funnel through it to get into the stadium. "Look in the players' eyes, scabs!" a union man said. "You're taking away their money."

The language got rough. And the spitting started. Children were jostled. An elderly couple clung to each other for dear life. Families locked arms for safety. Mace was thrown at the feet of five striking Eagles. Running back Keith Byars and guard Bob Landsee began sneezing. Tears streamed down the cheeks of fullback Michael Haddix.

The union support was more than the players had bargained for. "I knew Philadelphia was a big union town," Haddix said, "but I didn't understand what labor unions were all about. I'll never cross a picket line as long as I live."

Said Spagnola, "I was more nervous here than I've ever been for a game."

Norman Braman, the Eagles owner, was furious. "This was a dark day for the city of Philadelphia," he said. "This is not a factory on Front Street. This is city property. The police, the sheriffs office—there just didn't appear to be any control out there. "

Fans fumed, too. "They spit in my face!" said Jim Moll, an insurance underwriter. "Early in the week, I was going to honor the players' pickets. But when I heard the unions were getting into the act, I decided I wasn't going to let them intimidate me. Now, if there are any more strike games, I'm going to every one. I won't let those Teamster jerks intimidate me."

Even Bears coach Mike Ditka was heard from. "What were those people doing out there?" he said. "This game was going to go on. All they [the demonstrators' trucks] were doing was wasting gas. It's silly. I mean, this is America!"

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