"I'm not going to sell out our union for dues checkoffs," says Upshaw. "I sit on the executive council of the AFL-CIO, and lots of brother unions have promised financial support. Don't worry about the union. It'll stay afloat."
Upshaw has heard the criticism of his performance during the strike, that he was a left guard going up against skilled, trained negotiators. "I'm always going to hear that," he says, "because I was a player. They figure players check their brains somewhere."
How about the players who now must line up beside guys who walked through picket lines? "It'll be tough," says New Orleans alternate player rep Brad Edelman. "Some things I'll try to forget in a few weeks. Some things I'll never forget, like the guys who had gone back in taunting us on the picket line, yelling stuff like, 'We're making the money, honey,' just rubbing our noses in it. A few of these guys figure we'll walk back in, and it'll be fun and games, like nothing happened. Well, you have to consider the mentality of those people.
"I don't know how much better the teams that stayed close during the strike, like the Redskins and the Bears, will be. Needless to say, when a Mike Singletary speaks, he speaks for the Bears, and that's valuable. A team that stuck together through thick and thin, regardless of how much money the players lost, will be better off."
"When you walk the picket line," says Raider tight end Todd Christensen, "you think, How can I get excited about being in the playoffs? Who cares? I hope that'll wear off. All my life I dreamed of making the Hall of Fame. Now my feeling is, Who wants to go to some place sanctioned by the Culverhouses and Schramms of this world?
"I talked to our coach, Tom Flores, the other day. I asked him, 'What happened here? What went wrong? This isn't the way adults deal with their differences.' He just shook his head."