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Flores Wants Regular Raiders Back : L.A. Coach Would Rather Play Against Real Broncos, Too

October 06, 1987|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

Tom Flores ignored the bait: Since his strike team looks stronger than Dan Reeves' strike team, wouldn't the Raider coach like to see the National Football League players' strike go on at least through next Monday night?

"No, I'm hoping our players come back," Flores said Monday while reflecting on the surrogate Raiders' 35-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Denver Broncos strikebreakers' 40-10 loss to Houston Sunday. "I wouldn't lock the door."

The game at Denver looms as the first American Football Conference West showdown for the 3-0 Raiders and an opportunity to bury the defending conference champions, who are 1-1-1. Even so, the proposition of prolonging the strike for any purpose is outside a coach's comfort zone.

Flores would rather face John Elway and the Bronco varsity, knowing what he's up against.

"As a coaching staff, we were probably as nervous Sunday as we've ever been before any game, just from the unknown (factor)," Flores said.

"Then you start hearing about blowouts across the country before you even start . . . special teams was a big concern. A guy makes a mistake and it costs you a touchdown. Somebody came in and told me that somebody blocked a kick and scored (in another, earlier game), and I thought, 'Oh, no.' "

As Flores talked, he still didn't know which team would report back to practice Wednesday. The Raider regulars and irregulars both have today off--no picketing, no practice.

"Tuesday is always our day off," Raider player representative Sean Jones explained before flying to Chicago for Monday night's meeting.

Monday's schedule also was light for both sides. A dozen striking players sat at the picket line at El Segundo early Monday--it was too hot to walk--accompanied by a designated ally from the United Auto Workers.

They swapped rumors and yarns from their college football days.

Tight end Todd Christensen, the most vocal of all Raiders during the two weeks of the strike, asked a reporter: "Is it true that everyone--the owners, the scabs and his own teammates--are all hoping Todd Christensen comes down with laryngitis?"

Jones said the Monday night meeting was not called especially to address a crisis.

"There's an ounce of truth in any (rumor)," he said. "I don't know what management is doing, but we (the Raider players) are resolved that whatever we do, we're going to do together--stay out or go in. But we're not going to do anything to undermine the union.

"(The player reps) haven't had a meeting since the strike started," he said. "We planned we'd meet every two weeks, and it's been two weeks, so we're meeting.

At 9:30, the pickets adjourned, most to practice at El Segundo High School a few blocks away. Christensen and quarterback Rusty Hilger didn't make it that far, but there were 21 players, including Howie Long and Bill Pickel, who had walked in and back out last Friday after conferring with Davis.

Afterward, kicker Chris Bahr said he thought the owners had scored a point for the players with Sunday's strike games.

"You think they can go on without us?" Bahr asked. "What was the attendance--26% of capacity?"

He said missing one-eighth of his $215,000 salary hasn't hit him--yet.

"I'll start feeling it later in the year--those six months when we aren't getting paid," Bahr said.

He has no ongoing investments to fuel.

"I was involved in Technical Equities," he said, referring to a disastrous venture involving several Raiders. "My long-term things are down the tubes."

Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Randy White never did go on strike because, he said, he couldn't afford to lose any big paydays so near the end of his career.

"Randy White is making, what, $700,000 a year?" Bahr said. "His two-game checks are probably bigger than my salary."

However, Raider cornerback Mike Haynes, 34, is in White's class at $725,000 a year. The strike has cost him $90,625.

"Everybody I meet on the street is reminding me of that," Haynes said with a rueful smile. "It's unfortunate, but I'm willing to do it.

"I understand exactly what (White and others) are saying. You think you'll never be able to recoup the money. But if you can make it a better league for the players, it's worth it. Somebody paid the dues for me."

Raider Notes Coach Tom Flores said he started newcomer Vince Evans at quarterback over strike defector Marc Wilson because: "Quite frankly, we wanted to see if Vince was for real. He had looked sharp in practice, but the only film we had on him in the NFL was from 1981 (with the Bears)--and, we had Marc in reserve." Evans and safety Eddie Anderson, a former Seattle Seahawk who had 10 tackles and 3 assists, are the most likely to survive the return of the regulars, especially if squads are expanded, as expected, to 47. . . . The coaching staff will prepare for next Monday night's game in Colorado by reviewing films of Denver's first two games with its regular squad, as well as Sunday's understudy contest with Houston. "I don't think we can afford to wait and see what happens, there have been so many rumors," Flores said. "We've got to come up with a game plan and prepare for whatever happens. We have an extra day this week, which is an advantage."

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