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Scott Ostler

Hot Issues: Are Pickets Cricket? Can Boz Go Topless, Gene Go Nuts?

September 23, 1987|Scott Ostler

I've been getting a lot of calls from fans feverishly concerned about the player-management dispute that is threatening to tear apart the NFL.

Unfortunately, all I can tell them is that I, like everyone else, can only wait until later this week when a federal judge in Seattle rules whether Brian Bosworth may wear jersey No. 44, or must go back to the league-mandated No. 55. I only hope justice is served and no lasting damage is done to the game.

Also, a few people have phoned and expressed concern over the NFL player strike. I don't have any answers on that issue, either, although there are many burning questions worth posing, to wit:

If TV decides not to televise the scab games, how will we decide which light beer to drink?

Isn't scab an ugly word? Can't we call these fellows something nicer, like JVs, or Kelly Boys, or backstabbers?

In a way, isn't it excellent timing that the strike has come along and knocked that annoying gulf war out of the headlines?

Are the players happy now that they've got what they wanted--an NFL populated entirely by free agents?

Why is it you never hear the adjective overpaid used to describe the owners, who complain about losing money but always seem to wind up selling their teams for a $20-zillion profit, without ever so much as pulling a hamstring?

Is this really a fair fight, when the guys and gals on one side of the dispute are in pro football as a hobby, while for the fellows on the other side--with the exception of Bo Jackson--it's a matter of financial life and death?

While playing on that sympathy angle, wouldn't a striking player be well advised to leave his Mercedes limo or Porsche-Linguine in the garage and take a city bus to the picket line, or borrow a friend's 5-year-old Chevette?

You Ram fans, you didn't think the season would ever end, did you?

Jack Donlan or Gene Upshaw--when they're featured side by side on a TV interview, as they were Monday night, which of the two is better at shaking his head and rolling his eyes while the other guy is speaking?

Will team cheerleaders cheer on the sidelines at BBFL (Bottom of the Barrel Football League) games, or will they walk the picket lines, yelling "Yea-a-a-h, pension plan!"?

Is there no limit to the arrogance of the owners, who are assuming that anyone with a shred of intelligence, anyone but the lowest couch potato, will watch one of those scab games?

If we promise Peter Ueberroth leniency in sentencing on that collusion conviction, will he consent to settling this stupid strike?

Who is the mystery person Gene Upshaw says he has called upon, "a person I feel has some authority, a person that hopefully can bring this process to a speedy conclusion"? Who could it be? Kissinger? Bork? Mork? Clint Eastwood? Judge Wapner? The Fan-in-Chief himself?

Did Ladd Herzeg, Houston Oiler executive vice president, drop his pants and moon a wedding reception at a Buffalo hotel last Saturday night, or did he not? Doesn't this question raise an even greater philosophical question: If two sides can't agree on something as obvious as a mooning, how can we expect agreement on anything as vague and debatable as the issues in this strike?

In keeping with a Ram tradition of sideline rewards for great plays, will Georgia Frontiere kiss a scab, even if she doesn't know his name?

In keeping with another Ram tradition, will the Ram scabs be the lowest paid?

Would a quick settlement have been more likely if Donlan and Upshaw had been completely anonymous all along, wearing paper bags over heads when in public, with no ego or potential personal gain at stake?

Does any NFL city get a worse deal than Cincinnati, where the players walk out and Coach Sam Wyche stays?

If the fans come to the scab games and the owners make money, will the scabs soon realize they are grossly underpaid? Will they organize and go out on strike? If that happens, will scab scabs be brought in?

What's a fair ticket price for these scab games? In other words, how much should the owners pay fans to show up?

This isn't exactly what the players had in mind in terms of a new retirement plan, is it?

Is it too late for our national sports leaders to quietly campaign to add football to the Olympic Games lineup for 1988? Then, if the NFL players stay out long enough, will they regain their amateur eligibility? Would we kick some world fanny at Seoul, or what?

Hey, TV people, can you scrap your plans to televise scab games and re-runs of the last Super Bowl and other classic NFL games? Would you consider taking the tapes of the two games each team has played so far this season, and running them in fast-reverse, so we can go back to the beginning and pretend this whole thing never happened?

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