Oh, this was a beauty of a strike. Players picketing in fur coats. Owners charging fans $20 to watch Guido Merkens remember how to huddle up. John Madden video-chalking the crucial movements of aspiring actors and gas-pump jockeys. America watching it. Do you realize Week 1 of placebo ball drew more viewers than the last game of the Detroit- Toronto series for the American League East title? All guilty parties should stop right now and say two novenas.
You may have started out on the players' side. You may have started out on the owners' side. But by the end, you just wanted to step aside, so as not to get any of it on you. This strike was like watching a fistfight between Geraldo Rivera and George Will. You don't care if neither of them wins.
Look what we got: a 24-day work stoppage of the NFL Jellyfish Association. Nearly 15% of the players crossed their teammates' picket lines. For loyalty? For principle? No, for better than that. For annuities! Teams dissolved. Friendships ended. And what did the players win? Well, they may get 49 players on the roster instead of the 45 they had before this business began—with the new spots being filled by scabs.
As for the owners, we let them serve up the Rotary Club All-Stars for fun and profit. And last Thursday, when they had the real players back in plenty of time to perform in Sunday's games, they rubbed everybody's nose in it for an extra week. Other than that, the NFL is doing everything it can for you, the fan.
The strike is something we will want to remember forever. That is why I propose we collect some mementos and seal them in a time capsule. It will be cramped, but to capture the spirit of this historic period, we would be well-advised to include the following:
?A dozen eggs, to remind us of what the striking players threw and, after a week in the capsule, how the whole thing smelled.
?The gas money saved by striking Pittsburgh players, who decided 70 miles was too far to drive to picket Steelers practices in Johnstown, Pa., and stayed home the first week.
?The engraved words of Raiders owner Al Davis, who said, "Every week they stay out, it saves me another million dollars." Just compound, baby!
?The taped-together autograph of picketing Bronco linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, who ripped it up after signing it for an eight-year-old fan. He did this because the kid was going into the scab game Mecklenburg was picketing. Imagine! A kid coming to a game unversed in the workings of union-management conflict.
?The soon-to-be-orphaned teeth of Giants linebacker Robbie Jones, who, after he heard his team's most celebrated player would cross the line, warned others: "You follow Lawrence Taylor, you can burn in hell. I'd rather be known as a man of integrity who stood for something."