Per Patrick W's request, I'm going to spend the next couple of days looking at how the 1987 player's strike impacted the NFL. There have been thousands of pages written on the 1987 strike, so any analysis here would be woefully inadequate. But to provide at least some color on the event, let's start at the beginning.
Part I: Labor History
In 1956, the NFL Players Associated was formed. It's original goal was to create a minimum salary for all players and to gain some benefits that would be considered standard today. Threatened by a lawsuit, the NFL owners mostly gave into the players' demand, but refused to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA. In 1968, a brief lockout and subsequent strike occurred. It ended when, with Art Modell serving as NFL President and Chairman of the Owners Labor Committee, the players and owners negotiated the sport's first CBA, guaranteeing veteran players a minimum salary of $10,000. When the AFL and NFL merged, so did the league's respective Player Associations.
And, in the summer of 1970, the newly merged NFL saw its first strike. A new CBA was created, the minimum salary was raised to $13,000 and a more favorably pension plan was approved. By 1974, the NFLPA had become a stronger organization, and was ready to tackle the NFL on more serious issues. The PA wanted to eliminate the option clause and the Rozelle rule, which created a serious barrier to free agency; the PA also demanded that the NFL eliminate the draft, abolish and the waiver system, and begin including guaranteed contracts. The owners didn't budge, and the players went on strike for 42 days. The owners stayed tough, so the players called off the strike and instead chose to take the NFL to court.
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