The 1987 NFL player strike gave many a player a second chance at an NFL career. In effect, the replacement teams and replacement players were given three-game auditions to display their wares.
Some played well enough to be retained by their teams following the strike. Some moved on to other teams. Some won Super Bowl rings. Some went to Pro Bowls. Ten years later, there were more strike players still in the NFL than 1987 first-round draft picks (six).
And that’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll — who capitalized on that second chance offered by the strike and went on to become the best graduate of the replacement games? There are lots of great choices. Here are the eight candidates we chose to stock our ballot:
Eddie Anderson, S, Oakland. Anderson stuck with the Raiders after the strike and went on to play 10 more seasons for them. He started 116 career games and intercepted 19 passes. In 1989 he led the NFL with 233 return yards on his five interceptions, scoring two touchdowns.
Steve Bono, QB, Pittsburgh. Bono remained with the Steelers after the strike and went on to play 11 more seasons with five teams. He started 42 games and threw 62 touchdowns. In 1995, he started all 16 games for the Chiefs, throwing a career-best 21 TD passes, and steered KC to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the AFC playoff bracket. He also went to a Pro Bowl.
Ray Brown, G, St. Louis. Brown stuck with the Cardinals after the strike and went on to play 17 more seasons with four teams. He started 205 career games for the Cards, Redskins 49ers and Lions.
Kelly Goodburn, P, Kansas City. Goodburn remained with the Chiefs after the strike and went on to play for six more seasons with two teams. He won a Super Bowl ring punting for the Washington Redskins in 1991. He punted 351 times in his career, averaging 39.9 yards.
Erik Kramer, QB, Atlanta. Kramer started one game for the Falcons in the strike season, then sat out three seasons before the Detroit Lions called in 1991. He quarterbacked them to the NFC title game that season — the only NFL/NFC championship game appearance by the Lions in the last 60 years. He went on to play nine NFL seasons for three teams, starting 67 games and throwing 92 touchdown passes.
Marc Logan, FB, Cincinnati. Logan was released after the strike games but re-signed with the Bengals in 1988 and went on to play 10 NFL seasons with four teams. He played in two Super Bowls, losing with the Bengals in the 1989 game and winning with the 49ers in the 1995 game. He caught 123 passes, rushed for 1,391 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in his career.
Joe Phillips, DT, San Diego. Phillips stuck with the Chargers after the strike and went on to play 12 more seasons with four teams. He became one of the game’s elite interior run defenders, starting 152 games and collecting 24 ½ sacks.
Mike Prior, S, Indianapolis. Prior remained with the Colts after the strike and went on to play 11 more seasons with two teams. He started 85 games, intercepted 35 passes and played in two Super Bowls, winning with Green Bay in the 1997 game and them losing with the Packers in the 1998 game.