1987 NFL season

1987 National Football League season

1987 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 13 – December 28, 1987
A player's strike shortened the regular season to 15 games.
Playoffs
Start dateJanuary 3, 1988
AFC ChampionsDenver Broncos
NFC ChampionsWashington Redskins
Super Bowl XXII
DateJanuary 31, 1988
SiteJack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California
ChampionsWashington Redskins
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 7, 1988
SiteAloha Stadium
1987 NFL season is located in the United States
Colts
Colts
Patriots
Patriots
Bills
Bills
Dolphins
Dolphins
Jets
Jets
Bengals
Bengals
Browns
Browns
Oilers
Oilers
Steelers
Steelers
Broncos
Broncos
Chiefs
Chiefs
Raiders
Raiders
Chargers
Chargers
Seahawks
Seahawks
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AFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East
1987 NFL season is located in the United States
Cowboys
Cowboys
Giants
Giants
Eagles
Eagles
Cardinals
Cardinals
Redskins
Redskins
Bears
Bears
Lions
Lions
Packers
Packers
Vikings
Vikings
Buccaneers
Buccaneers
Falcons
Falcons
Rams
Rams
Saints
Saints
49ers
49ers
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NFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East
The San Diego Chargers hosting a pre-season game against the Los Angeles Rams at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in 1987.

The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. This season featured games predominantly played by replacement players as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) players were on strike from weeks four to six with week three being cancelled in its entirety. This remains the last NFL season in which regular-season games were impacted by a labor conflict (as well as the last season when non-union players were used as strike-breaking competitors).

The season ended with Super Bowl XXII, with the Washington Redskins defeating the Denver Broncos, 42–10, at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Broncos suffered their second consecutive Super Bowl defeat.

Player movement

Transactions

Trades

  • On October 31, 1987, the Los Angeles Rams traded Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts in a three team trade involving the Buffalo Bills. The Rams sent Dickerson to the Colts for six draft choices and two players. Buffalo obtained the rights to Cornelius Bennett from Indianapolis. Buffalo sent running back Greg Bell and three draft choices to the Rams, while Indianapolis added Owen Gill and three of their own draft picks to complete the deal with the Rams.[1]

Draft

The 1987 NFL Draft was held from April 28 to 29, 1987, at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected quarterback Vinny Testaverde from the University of Miami.

Referee changes

Chuck Heberling retired during the 1987 off-season. He joined the NFL in 1965 as a line judge before being promoted to referee in 1972. Games that he officiated include the Hail Mary Game and The Drive. Fred Silva, who was a swing official in 1986, was given his own crew again.

Major rule changes

  • If a defensive player commits pass interference in his own end zone, the ball is placed at the 1-yard line, or if the previous spot was inside the 2-yard line, the penalty is half the distance to the goal line.
  • Except for the first onside kick attempt, if a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team takes possession of the ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick or the spot it went out of bounds.
  • In order to stop the clock, the quarterback is permitted to throw the ball out of bounds or to the ground as long as he throws it immediately after receiving the snap.
  • During passing plays, an offensive player cannot chop block (block a defender below the thigh while the defensive player is already engaging another offensive player).
  • Illegal contact by a defensive player beyond the 5-yard zone from the line of scrimmage will not be called if the offensive team is in an obvious punt formation.
  • During kicks and punts, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist. However, players on the kicking team may block below the waist, but only before the kick is made. On all other plays after a change of possession, no player can block below the waist.
  • Revenue sharing was changed so that NFL players received a portion of the ticket revenue, while the owners kept the revenue generated by skybox rentals. This led to many teams pushing for new stadiums which lowered many skybox suites from the less-desirable outer rim of a stadium to more desirable locations closer to the field (typically, the midsection or lower) so that the owners could charge more money for the suites, while similarly reducing the ticket revenue by replacing the higher-priced seats with lower-priced “nose bleed” seats. Overall, the number of available general admission seating was also reduced in favor of larger suites.

The NFLPA strike

A 24-day players' strike was called after Week 2. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were cancelled, reducing the 16-game season to 15, but the games for Weeks 4, 5 and 6 were played with replacement players. The NFLPA actually ended the strike before the Week 6 slate of games, but the NFL owners' unanimously nixed their return that week because the union had missed an owner-mandated deadline that week to be eligible to return, and would have to wait until Week 7 to resume playing. Approximately 15% of the NFLPA’s players chose to cross picket lines to play during the strike; prominent players who did so included New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Randy White, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, 49ers running back Roger Craig, New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent.[2] The replacement players were mostly those left out of work by the recent folding of the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and the 1986 dissolution of the United States Football League, as well as others who had been preseason cuts, had long left professional football or were other assorted oddities (such as cinematographer Todd Schlopy, who, despite never playing professional football before or after the strike, served as placekicker for his hometown Buffalo Bills for three games). The replacement players, called to play on short notice and having little chance to jell as teammates, were widely treated with scorn by the press and general public, including name-calling, public shaming and accusations of being scabs. The games played by these replacement players were regarded with even less legitimacy – attendance plummeted to under 10,000 fans at many of the games in smaller markets and cities with strong union presence, including a low of 4,074 for the lone replacement game played in Philadelphia) — but nonetheless were counted as regular NFL games.[3] Final television revenues were down by about 20%, a smaller drop than the networks had expected.[4] The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants went 0–3 in replacement games, ultimately costing them a chance to make the playoffs and to repeat their championship. The final replacement game was a Monday Night Football matchup on October 19, 1987, with the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys. Along with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins were the only other NFL team not to have any players cross the picket line and were surprising 13–7 victors over the Cowboys who had plenty of big name players cross the picket line.

The 2017 film Year of the Scab, which aired as part of the ESPN series 30 for 30, documented the story of the replacement players who crossed the picket line to play for the Redskins.[5][6] A fictionalized account based on the 1987 strike formed the basis of the 2000 film The Replacements.

American Bowl

A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States, the only American Bowl game in 1987 was held at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Score Stadium City
August 9, 1987 Los Angeles Rams 28 Denver Broncos 27 Wembley Stadium United Kingdom London

Regular season

Scheduling formula

    Inter-conference
AFC East vs NFC East
AFC Central vs NFC West
AFC West vs NFC Central

Highlights of the 1987 season included:

  • Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 26, featuring Kansas City at Detroit and Minnesota at Dallas, with Kansas City and Minnesota winning.

Final standings

AFC East
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Indianapolis Colts(3) 9 6 0 .600 5–3 8–6 300 238 W2
New England Patriots 8 7 0 .533 6–2 8–4 320 293 W3
Miami Dolphins 8 7 0 .533 2–6 5–7 362 335 L1
Buffalo Bills 7 8 0 .467 4–4 6–6 270 305 L2
New York Jets 6 9 0 .400 3–5 6–5 334 360 L4
AFC Central
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Cleveland Browns(2) 10 5 0 .667 5–1 8–3 390 239 W3
Houston Oilers(4) 9 6 0 .600 5–1 7–4 345 349 W2
Pittsburgh Steelers 8 7 0 .533 2–4 6–5 285 299 L2
Cincinnati Bengals 4 11 0 .267 0–6 3–9 285 370 L3
AFC West
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Denver Broncos(1) 10 4 1 .700 7–1 8–3 379 288 W2
Seattle Seahawks(5) 9 6 0 .600 4–3 5–6 371 314 L1
San Diego Chargers 8 7 0 .533 3–4 6–7 253 317 L6
Los Angeles Raiders 5 10 0 .333 2–6 3–8 301 289 L3
Kansas City Chiefs 4 11 0 .267 3–5 3–9 273 388 W1
NFC East
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Washington Redskins(3) 11 4 0 .733 7–1 9–3 379 285 W1
Dallas Cowboys 7 8 0 .467 4–4 5–7 340 348 W2
St. Louis Cardinals 7 8 0 .467 3–5 7–7 362 368 L1
Philadelphia Eagles 7 8 0 .467 3–5 4–7 337 380 W2
New York Giants 6 9 0 .400 3–5 4–8 280 312 W2
NFC Central
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
Chicago Bears(2) 11 4 0 .733 7–0 9–2 356 282 W1
Minnesota Vikings(5) 8 7 0 .533 3–5 6–6 336 335 L1
Green Bay Packers 5 9 1 .367 3–4 4–7 255 300 L2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 11 0 .267 3–4 4–9 286 360 L8
Detroit Lions 4 11 0 .267 2–5 4–7 269 384 W1
NFC West
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W L T PCT DIV CONF PF PA STK
San Francisco 49ers(1) 13 2 0 .867 5–1 10–1 459 253 W6
New Orleans Saints(4) 12 3 0 .800 4–1 8–3 426 283 W9
Los Angeles Rams 6 9 0 .400 1–5 5–7 317 361 L2
Atlanta Falcons 3 12 0 .200 1–4 3–8 205 436 L3

Tiebreakers

  • Houston was the #4 seed in the AFC, winning a tiebreaker over Seattle based on better conference record (7–4 vs. Seahawks' 5–6).
  • Chicago was the #2 seed in the NFC, winning a tiebreaker over Washington based on better conference record (9–2 vs. Redskins' 9–3).
  • New England finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Dallas finished ahead of St. Louis and Philadelphia in the NFC East based on better division record (4–4 to Cardinals' 3–5 and Eagles' 3–5), and St. Louis finished ahead of Philadelphia based on better conference record (7–7 to Eagles' 4–7).
  • Tampa Bay finished ahead of Detroit in the NFC Central based on better division record (3–4 to Lions' 2–5).

Playoffs

Jan 9 – Candlestick Park
5 Minnesota 36
Jan 3 – Louisiana Superdome Jan 17 – RFK Stadium
1 San Francisco 24
NFC
5 Minnesota 44 5 Minnesota 10
Jan 10 – Soldier Field
4 New Orleans 10 3 Washington 17
NFC Championship
3 Washington 21
Jan 31 – Jack Murphy Stadium
2 Chicago 17
Divisional playoffs
Wild Card playoffs N3 Washington 42
Jan 9 – Cleveland Stadium
A1 Denver 10
Super Bowl XXII
3 Indianapolis 21
Jan 3 – Astrodome Jan 17 – Mile High Stadium
2 Cleveland 38
AFC
5 Seattle 20 2 Cleveland 33
Jan 10 – Mile High Stadium
4 Houston 23* 1 Denver 38
AFC Championship
4 Houston 10
1 Denver 34


* Indicates overtime victory
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Awards

As awarded by the Associated Press
Most Valuable Player John Elway, quarterback, Denver
Coach of the Year Jim Mora, New Orleans
Offensive Player of the Year Jerry Rice, wide receiver, San Francisco
Defensive Player of the Year Reggie White, defensive end, Philadelphia
Offensive Rookie of the Year Troy Stradford, running back, Miami
Defensive Rookie of the Year Shane Conlan, linebacker, Buffalo
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Charles White, running back, LA Rams
NFL Man of the Year Dave Duerson, safety, Chicago
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Doug Williams, quarterback, Washington

Coaching changes

Stadium changes

The Miami Dolphins began playing at their new home, Joe Robbie Stadium, moving from the Miami Orange Bowl. This was also the Cardinals' final season at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis; the team relocated to Tempe, Arizona, the following season.

Uniform changes

  • The Buffalo Bills switched from blue face masks to white
  • The Indianapolis Colts began wearing their white pants with their blue jerseys, discontinuing their gray pants
  • The Miami Dolphins introduced a redesigned jersey to coincide with the opening of Joe Robbie Stadium. The stripes on the sleeves were pared down to make way for the helmet logo on the sleeves; TV numbers moved to the shoulders; and numbers changed to a new Dolphins-specific font.

Television changes

The eight-year old ESPN cable network signed a three-year deal to become the first cable television broadcaster of the league, broadcasting a series of Sunday night games during the second half of the season.[7] Its program ESPN Sunday Night NFL (subsequently rebranded as ESPN Sunday Night Football) debuted on November 8, 1987. The league also mandated that each ESPN game must air via broadcast syndication to an over-the-air station in the markets of the participating teams. ESPN also debuted NFL Primetime, featuring scores, highlights, and analysis of the Sunday afternoon games; the program served as a pregame show during those weeks of Sunday Night Football.

In addition, ABC, CBS, and NBC each signed three-year contracts to renew their rights to broadcast Monday Night Football, the NFC package, and the AFC package, respectively.[7]

ABC returned to a three-man booth, hiring Dan Dierdorf from CBS to join Al Michaels and Frank Gifford. ESPN's initial broadcast team consisted of Mike Patrick on play-by-play, with Roy Firestone and a weekly "guest color commentator". NFL Primetime included host Chris Berman, and analysts Tom Jackson and Pete Axthelm. NBC renamed its pregame show NFL Live! Gayle Sierens then made history as the first woman to do play-by-play for an NFL regular season game, calling NBC's telecast of the December 27 game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs.

CBS fired "Jimmy the Greek" Snyder on January 16, 1988, a few days before the NFC Championship Game, after he made several questionable comments about African Americans during an interview with Ed Hotaling, producer-reporter for Washington, D.C. NBC station WRC-TV.[8]

References

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1981–1990 Archived October 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)

Footnotes

  1. ^ NFL 2001 Record and Fact Book, Workman Publishing Co, New York, NY, ISBN 0-7611-2480-2, p.286
  2. ^ Merrill, Elizabeth (June 9, 2011). "NFL replacements part of history". ESPN. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  3. ^ Farnsworth, Clare (October 3, 2001). "NFL crossed the line on Replacement Sunday". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  4. ^ "N.F.L. TV Ratings Drop". The New York Times. October 9, 1987. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  5. ^ Allen, Scott (September 13, 2017). "Joe Gibbs won't say it, but 1987 Redskins replacements deserve Super Bowl rings". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  6. ^ Weber, Greta (May 26, 2017). "An ESPN Documentary About the 1987 Redskins Replacement Players Is the Ultimate Underdog Story You've Never Heard". Washingtonian. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Quinn, Kevin G. (2011). The Economics of the National Football League: The State of the Art. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 338. ISBN 978-1-4419-6289-8.
  8. ^ Solomon, George (January 17, 1988). "'Jimmy the Greek' Fired by CBS for His Remarks". The Washington Post.