When players went on strike for better benefits, Eric Dickerson undermined them

Getty Images

Eric Dickerson is now speaking out for the idea that Hall of Fame players should be paid $300,000 a year in retirement. But when Dickerson was an active player, supporting the retired players was not his concern.

In 1987, the NFL players went on strike, and among the key pieces of their agenda were improving retirement benefits and health care. The players’ solidarity cracked after the NFL owners decided to keep the league going with replacement players, and eventually many veteran players crossed the picket lines. And one of those strike breakers was Eric Dickerson.

In fact, it was Dickerson and another signer of the statement he released yesterday, Lawrence Taylor, who delivered the finishing blow to the players’ strike when they led a movement to cross the picket line three weeks into the strike: The players’ union took a huge hit when those two stars led the way as players on almost every team decided to break the strike and return to work simultaneously.

As a UPI article on October 15, 1987, put it: “Over 100 players, led by superstars Lawrence Taylor and Eric Dickerson, crossed picket lines in the largest one-day defection since the union began its walkout Sept. 22.”

Dickerson ended up not playing in any replacement games, but he made it clear at the time that that was because he didn’t trust the replacement offensive linemen to protect him, not because he supported the union’s cause.

I can’t take a chance going in behind this [non-union] offensive line,” Dickerson told the Los Angeles Times on October 16, 1987.

So when Dickerson had a chance to show solidarity with his fellow players and pressure the owners into better benefits, he decided instead to look out for himself and cross the picket line. For Dickerson now to hold himself up as the leader of a movement to support retired players comes across as too little, too late.

84 responses to “When players went on strike for better benefits, Eric Dickerson undermined them

  1. It would be hard to find another player that’s ever played with an ego as big as his. I think he got some backlash for only writing that he wanted this for hall of famers and later had to change his stance. I’m all for his cause for health insurance but for everyone not just hall of famers. He is out of his mind though for the 300k salary that’s just being way out of touch. Wouldn’t have a problem with living expenses being helped with but 300k is way above covering basic needs.

  2. Unions are past their usefulness. They are corporations into themselves at this point. They are concerned only with union profits and mind little outside of their business. They have bankrupt towns and cities all over the US, handcuffed public works for the detriment to communities and the bloated pensions have become colossal financial liabilities to companies and townships alike. The NFLPA is a joke and so are those that buy into union effectiveness in the 21st century.

  3. Wow, so he crossed for money but still wouldn’t play because he thought he might get hurt. The fastest way to address his new demand might be to just boot him out of the HOF.

  4. The mistakes of his youth coming back to haunt him.

    Players were paid proportionally a lot less at that time, so they didn’t have a lot of staying power to keep up the strike. Its no wonder it failed, but he’s surely regretting that move now at least a little bit.

  5. So he looked out for himself first in crossing the picket line and the looked out for himself again by not even playing because he might get injured. This man redefines “me first”.

  6. I’d love to hear where he came up with the 200k number. How did he arrive at that number? Even in areas among the highest cost of living that is a ton of money for doing thing.

    It’s like Dr Evil asking for 100 million dollars in 1969.

  7. What I remember most about that player’s strike was the players from the local team walking a picket line at a local business in solidarity with fellow union brothers. Lots of media attention and talk about always supporting union brothers. The day players strike ended was the last day any player even mentioned the local union brothers in so much as a casual mention.

    Their solidarity last only as long as they needed the PR. Screw em all.

  8. Possibly the best article I’ve read on PFT.
    The one time the players actually bravely held out instead of signing a terrible deal, guys like Dickerson backed down and ruined the movement. Dickerson being one of the richest players of course would have been in the best position to hold out. Dickerson has no credibility and should be summarily ignored.

  9. Waste of time and money on these losers. Give him $5 bucks and tell him to take a hike. If he blew his millions, too damn bad.

  10. I find this whole story really weird. So you made it to the HOF and want a $300,000 salary? What about all the other guys around you who helped you get there? Screw them? Nice. What a guy.

  11. This isn’t about some great cause of helping former players who are having life-altering issues with their bodies after retirement

    If it was, then they’d be asking or health benefits for ALL former players and mentioning the word salary

    This is only a self-serving money grab attempt by truly selfish people. Only HOFers? $300,000 a year salary? Takes a special kind of idiot to make me cheer for Goodell….

  12. The ’87 Strike can’t be reduced to benefits for retired players. That’s idiotic to say so. By the second week of the 1987 strike, Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and Roger Craig had all crossed the picket line in San Francisco ahead of Dickerson and Taylor. Tony Dorsett famously was labeled a Judas figure. The players union cracked in 1987, anyone who remembers anything about the Strike knows that.

  13. No hall of famer in good health will ever go broke they can make money just by appearances and autographs and memorabilia

  14. The average pension for an NFL player is $43k. That’s a lot more than most retirees get from Social Security and they seem to do just fine.

  15. comment674054559 says:
    September 19, 2018 at 7:35 pm
    So he looked out for himself first in crossing the picket line and the looked out for himself again by not even playing because he might get injured. This man redefines “me first”.

    And he is still only looking out for himself by not including anyone but HOF’ers. Elitist scum

  16. $300k a year for retired HOF players? What about all those journeymen players that busted their asses to help make the Dickerson’s of the world HOFers? Where is their compensation?

    It’s a stupid, selfish idea to pay only HOFers. Pay them all or pay none of them. And frankly they should just go get themselves a 401k like the rest of the working stiffs and build their own retirement plans. Lord knows they make more money at a league minimum in one year than most of us will make in 5.

  17. Now I can see why Fisher didn’t want him on the side lines at Rams gams. And I was sure it was just Fisher being Fisher… now I’m prepared to say I was probably wrong.

  18. Can’t find one human being that has anything nice to say about Dickerson…….well maybe his mama…but that’s iffy

  19. He might’ve been a good reason but he sounds like a very self-centered human being.

    Guessing he came up with 300k because he needs about 250k a year to survive his lifestyle. The extra 50 is icing…

    How about no.

  20. These guys already get lifetime salary & benefits. It’s called “getting paid more than most people ever make in a lifetime of work for playing a game for a few years”.

    Their long-term needs are already met far beyond most of the population trough the massive salaries they make. This is true for all but the oldest ex-players, who are the only ones I would support extending benefits for.

  21. You can negotiate anything you want.
    The problem is always the same, the players want half the pie. Then they want everything additional to come out of the other half. Cut your half up any way you want, salary, benefits, retirement.

  22. ED deserves a life long pension about as much as the nepotism rife, game-the-system, government job lifers that are totally useless but totally impossible to fire.

  23. Spend some time trying to negotiate a new contract with a labor union and you’ll quickly realize the real goals of the union “leadership.” Unions had their place and served a greater good at one point (and to some degree still can/do in industries where safety is a concern). But just be aware that these days the MAJORITY of unions cover public employees— that’s right, the federal, state, and municipal employees YOUR tax dollars pay for. Do you feel like these folks are being mistreated, put in danger, and need protection from their evil bosses (you)?

  24. I’ve been watching football for a long time. DICKerson has always been a “me first” type of person. If he mis-managed his money,too bad. That goes for all of them.

  25. If the union should pay any players, it should pay all of them based on years of service. It should NOT just pay the Hall of Famers only. That is elitist garbage.

  26. Dickerson has always been a selfish jerk. I remember watching an interview on the SMU scandal where he was claiming to be the victim of that situation.

  27. One of the strangest things about football fans is that they will always side with the billionaire owners over the players. And it’s not the players who are getting huge amounts of public money every time a new stadium is wanted!

  28. That’s a garbage position anyway. If they want a retirement set up a program like everyone else. There are some really smart people that could put something together that would work. The guys at the top of the wage scale actually should receive less IMO. They receive the equivalence of most people’s entire retirement in a few gamechecks

  29. danimal1974 says:
    September 20, 2018 at 1:53 am
    One of the strangest things about football fans is that they will always side with the billionaire owners over the players. And it’s not the players who are getting huge amounts of public money every time a new stadium is wanted!
    =
    Yes, we all know that owners never worked a day on their lives and a leprechaun dropped a pot of gold at their feet. If not for owners there would be no NFL. A couple of thousand people have jobs at each facility because of these owners. Think the working man is getting a raw deal? It’s America, go start a business. Maybe some people just respect that someone took advantage of the opportunity this land provides instead of acting like jealous entitled children. Jealousy is, as Bob Kraft said, evidently incurable.

  30. Funny how he wouldn’t play w guys he was afraid wouldn’t block for him but won’t help the guys he thought would block for him.
    300k$ for an honer others helped him achieve? Guy doesn’t have class, he’s just got a lot of nerve…

  31. This article reminds me of the time Tony Soprano rolled up on that guy in the boat with that fish in hand. ‘It’s bad you know’

    Hey, you can’t blame LT for crossing… he had a habit to pay for.

  32. terryleather says:
    September 19, 2018 at 8:04 pm
    Yeah, how dare he try to be a better man now than he was 30 years ago. Of all the nerve.

    He’s doing it because he’s in the HOF and wants money. Comprehend the situation before you say anything, this has nothing to do with him trying to be a better man.

  33. ktimmmtb says:
    September 20, 2018 at 9:47 am
    Counter offer:
    Health care and one free item at the souvenir shop.

    ———–

    Counter Offer: get a real job Eric

  34. The next article that needs to be written is the impact of paying HoFer’s… potential for paying off voters, the lobbying by players as now big money is attached, suing for back pay as the newly elected guy SHOULD (in his mind) have been voted in sooner, and on and on. The potential for corruption is great.

    Ironically, a year from now, will Dickerson be the first signee to “cross the picket line” and show up for next year’s HoF Induction Ceremony???? THAT would be funny.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!