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NFL PLAYERS STRIKE: DAY 23 : Rams : Players Refute Team's Claim That 13 Will Return Today

October 15, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

It began in the morning with a list, released by the Rams to reporters and the National Football League Management Council. On it were the names of 13 striking Ram players who were expected to cross the picket line today.

Coach John Robinson said an unspecified source told him that the striking players would return, and the list was forwarded to the league office to beat Wednesday's 1 p.m. deadline, meaning the players would be eligible to play and be paid for next Sunday's game at Atlanta. He then gave the players the day off.

The Rams were calling it "selective protection."

The players named on the list were calling it bogus. Some were incensed and shocked.

"I had no idea about the list," said wide receiver Michael Young, one of the players named. "I was never informed of any list."

Others named on the list were running backs Eric Dickerson and Tim Tyrrell, quarterback Jim Everett, wide receiver Ron Brown, linebackers Mel Owens, Kevin Greene, Larry Kelm and Sam Anno, cornerbacks Mickey Sutton and Jerry Gray, and offensive linemen Jackie Slater and Duval Love.

Gary Jeter, the Rams' alternate player representative, called the list "hogwash" and suggested that it was a management ploy to sway national opinion and encourage others to cross picket lines.

A spokesman for NFL management said Wednesday the Rams reported that the 13 players were back in camp.

But in fact, the striking Rams voted twice Wednesday morning, first to accept a majority-rule decision and second to decide whether or not to cross the picket line and return as a team.

According to one striking player, who asked not to be identified, the Rams voted to stay out as a team for one more day. The player added that the team was only "two or three votes" away from coming in.

The Rams will take another vote today at 10 a.m.

The player also said that at least a few players on the Rams' list voted to stay out.

Four of the named players contacted Wednesday denied that they were returning and all said they had no idea how such a list was compiled.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Sutton said. "What we're going to do, we're going to do as a team. We're definitely going to do it as a team."

The names soon reached national news services, which duly reported that the 13 returning Rams were given the day off, would be in camp today and would play against the Falcons Sunday.

So, who was this source?

"I have no comment on that," Robinson said.

Robinson also said he could be wrong. "It's a list to make sure that if the source is accurate, the players would be able to play," he said. "If it is not, we would have to correct our mistake."

One player named on the list compared the unusual goings-on to international espionage.

"This is like the KGB," he said, asking not to be identified. "I'll plant disinformation all over the place, too. You can do it for or against."

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