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Strike Can't End Too Soon for Rams : Robinson Is Looking at 0-4 Start Unless Regulars Return

October 06, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

Ram Coach John Robinson has his finger on football's hold button, ready at a second's notice to disconnect a certain odorous non-union team of his.

Robinson is actually thinking/hoping/praying that he can pull the plug today.

He canceled Monday's practice for non-union players just in case the news from Monday night's meeting of player representatives in Chicago indicated the strike is close to ending.

Robinson thinks his real team, the one that's 0-2, is on its way back this week.

"I just heard a rumor flying around this morning," he said. "That (union leader) Gene Upshaw is going to state that free agency is no longer the issue and he is going to ask the players to come back in. I can't confirm it."

If he could, you'd find him dancing through the streets of Anaheim.

"I'll never be so thankful to have something behind us," Robinson said of the strike.

And that, in a New Orleans bombshell, is how much worse his new team (0-1) is than his old one (0-2).

In truth, the Rams can't go on like this. Not another week with this replacement team, 37-10 losers to the New Orleans Saints Sunday.

The Rams tried to fake it on Bourbon Street and fooled no one.

"We clearly fell short with this group," Robinson said. "The clear advantage to be had in this whole situation was to retain the services of guys you had in training camp. We didn't get that done."

The team admittedly failed to do its strike homework.

"It was a mistake not to," Robinson said. "But our mind-set at the time was that there would not be a strike and reason would prevail."

Reason, apparently, never came into play.

The perfect Robinson dream has the strike ending today and Commissioner Pete Rozelle announcing at a press conference that last Sunday's games will be wiped from memory.

"If they would not count," he said. "I would consider refunding the money (to the fans) myself."

Wishful thinking? You bet. But what else does Robinson have? If the strike lasts until Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he's looking at an 0-4 start with one game having already been canceled.

There's no Robinson rhetoric on this one.

"We would have to make some marked improvement to be competitive over a long scale," he said of his new group.

Can the credibility of the league hold up much longer?

"My personal opinion is no," he said. "The World Series is coming up and with that interest level, you could change your focus and say . . . I'm going here. I'm not sure I'd buy season tickets in a strike year. I'm not sure I should even be saying that."

Today, Robinson sits with two teams, two canisters of Pittsburgh film, too much on his mind.

"I find myself struggling through trying to make plans in three different directions at the same time," he said.

Won't you come home, Eric Dickerson?

Ram Notes John Robinson was amused with Saints' owner Tom Benson's sideline cheerleading during the closing minutes of Sunday's game. "The guy was running around like he'd just won the Super Bowl," Robinson said. "The guy's not going to live if they win the division. He may have a heart attack." . . . The Saints visit Anaheim Stadium on Nov. 8.

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