From the Steelers Locker Room: Remembering the Stoppages of ’82 and ’87

Let’s get something perfectly fricking clear right now. As was the case in 1982 and 1987, the Washington Redskins went onto win the Super Bowl following each of the seasons. I don’t care if 2011 ends up being a one-game season, there is no way in hell the Redskins will win Super Bowl XLVI. OK, got that off my chest…..

In 1982, the players went on strike on September 21st and would end up having only a nine-game season. NBC, which carried the AFC at that time wound up carrying MLB games and Monday Night Football would become nothing but ‘movie night.’ Essentially, the players were striking over almost the same type of thing that is causing the labor strife now. So what did the Steelers’ look like in 1982?

  • First of all, as a team, the Steelers were composed of a decent amount of talent left-over from the dynasty of the 1970’s. Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Mike Webster and John Stallworth were still big parts of the offense. Webster and Stallworth both went to the Pro Bowl in ’82. On defense, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert were still at linebacker while Donnie Shell, Mel Blount and Dewayne Wooodruff were in the secondary. Woodruff and Lambert would ultimately go to the Pro Bowl.
  • 1982 was the first year of the defense’s shift to the 3-4 which they have been ever since.
  • Kicker Gary Anderson was in his rookie season.
  • The Steelers would finish 6-3 and were a game behind the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Pittsburgh hosted the San Diego Chargers in the playoffs and built a 28-17 4th quarter lead but gave up 2 Dan Fouts TD passes and lost to the ‘Bolts 31-28.

The Steelers celebrated their 50th year in 1982 and wore this patch during the strike-shortened season.


  • Also in 1982, the Raiders became the ‘Los Angeles Raiders.
  • The Minnesota Vikings moved indoors to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
  • Detroit and Cleveland both made the modified playoffs with 4-5 records.

In 1987, the NFL again lost time due to a work-stoppage, but this time it was only one game. Technically that is…. It was in this season that owners decided to go with what were called ‘replacement players’ who were brought in by each team to take the place of the regular players, or ‘unionized players.’ Most around the country referred to these new players as ‘scabs’ which was a term going back to replacement workers on unionized assembly lines. For the Steelers, it was a far different outcome than in ’82.

  • Mark Malone started at quarterback and had only Mike Webster (again a Pro Bowler) left over from the Super Bowl era. Malone would throw 6 TD passes and 19 interceptions. On D, the Steelers were in massive transition. Donnie Shell was in his 13th season and the team struggled both offensively and defensively and would finish 8-7, one game out of the playoffs.
  • Merrill Hoge and Rod Woodson were rookies.
  • They went 2-6 in the Central Division losing twice to Houston and Cleveland and beating Cincy twice.
  • Within the next two years, legendary coach Chuck Noll would retire, handing the reins to 34-year old Bill Cowher.

Given the daunting challenge of replacing the legendary Bradshaw, Malone struggled mightily in 1987.


  • Also in the 1987 season, the defending champion New York Giants lost all 3 of the ‘replacement games’ and those losses cost them a chance to defend their title as they missed the playoffs.
  • ESPN began carrying live NFL games for the first time as they broadcast Sunday Night Football every week during the second half of the season.
  • The Keanu Reaves-Gene Hackman movie “The Replacements” was based largely on the Redskins 3-game series of scab players.
  • John Elway was the League MVP and New Orleans’ Coach Jim Mora was the Coach of the Year.

Let’s hope that the players and owners will find some common ground before their labor/monetary issues claim any games because the NFL is the hottest professional brand going right now and I would hate to see them lose that grip.

THE FINAL SPEW: The Cal Golden Bears, in an effort to fill out their 12 game football schedule have agreed to play FCS “powerhouse” Presbyterian College. They went 2-9 last season. Gimme a freaking break….. Iowa HS basketball team tries 103 3-pointers and LOSES 109-25. Did I mention they made 8?….. Riots, errrrrr, protests in the Middle East continue. So is this a truly democratic movement or a possible move towards one big caliphate….. And here’s today’s video selection from ‘Step-Brothers.’ **Language WARNING***




About steeldad

Husband, Father, Educator, Steelers Fan
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