Players' Association leaders claimed their side of the conflict had not been presented accurately, if at all, in the nation's press. (In fact, one player, Joe Green of Pittsburgh, was so outraged he spat in the face of a sportswriter.) They issued a rebuttal to an NFL memorandum, charging that the owners' negotiating committee "remained rigid in its proposals while the players have reduced their offer six times."
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs managed to get ready for the All-Star Game in only six days. While their colleagues were out on strike, they justified playing because a) the All-Star Game is really an extension of last season, an honor due to the world champions, b) the game was for charity, and c) they wouldn't gain an advantage over the idle teams because, as Jim Tyrer said, "One week of practice isn't going to mean anything when the championship game is played in January."
As the All-Star Game drew near, the pressure grew. The Chiefs were working out on their own at a high school field on the outskirts of Kansas City when, according to Lamar Hunt, Head Coach Hank Strain showed up. Stram pushed for participation in the All-Star Game. At that time, the majority of the players probably were against playing.
They met again on the same field at 6 p.m. Tyrer had been in contact with the association, which said to start workouts, but, if no settlement were reached, to walk out of camp before the game. Most of the Chiefs bridled at this, the consensus being, "If we're going to camp, we're going to play. We'll prove we're with the association by walking out after the game."
Stram had a personal reason for wanting to play. He was a sophomore halfback at Purdue in 1942, and since it was wartime, undergraduates were allowed to participate in the All-Star Game. Stram was invited to play in 1943 against the Redskins. However, he got another invitation—to join the Army. Stram wanted to play so badly he considered going AWOL but was talked out of it.
At least two of his players, Dawson and Garrett, also had personal incentives. Len was on the 1957 team, which was coached by Curly Lambeau, who started Stanford's John Brodie. Dawson never got into the game. "They were saving Jimmy Brown and me," he says.
Garrett, fresh from winning the Heisman Trophy, played in 1966 under Coach John Sauer who made him the fifth and last running back. When he finally got in he didn't play well, and he remembers Sauer telling him, "You'll never make it. Too small. No good."
At the 1970 All-Star camp all was tranquil, according to Coach Otto Graham, until the Players' Association sent Alex Karras and Mike Pyle to talk to the players. Karras and Pyle were "trying to disrupt our practice sessions," said Otto, and they succeeded in getting "the kids all mixed up." The next day the players boycotted practice to show their solidarity with the association, even though they are not eligible to join it until after their third NFL game.
That night Graham moderated a meeting at which the coaches told the players the "association was using them," that the game had no effect on the negotiations. Whether the players believed this or not, they resumed practicing.
Otto also had troubles of his own makings. He couldn't decide which quarterback to start, Mike Phipps of Purdue or Dennis Shaw of San Diego State, so he flipped a coin and Shaw won. Neither was effective, Shaw completing only two of 14 passes. The star of the Stars was Bruce Taylor, who did a good job covering Frank Pitts and Gloster Richardson. He also returned two kickoffs for 42 yards and a punt for 28, and one of his returns was reduced because of a clipping penalty. Taylor, the property of the 49ers, has a brother, Brian, a freshman at Princeton, who is one of the finest basketball prospects in the country.