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Robinson's 13 Count Stops at 2 as Players Stop It at 1

October 17, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

The National Football League's Management Council turned Ram Coach John Robinson's now infamous list of 13 into the list of 2 Friday, ruling that only quarterback Jim Everett and wide receiver Ron Brown would be eligible for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Robinson seemingly had circumvented NFL rules Wednesday, while a strike by the players' association still was on when he drew up a list of 13 Ram players and submitted their names to the Management Council before 10 a.m., the reporting deadline for players who wished to play and be paid for Sunday's game.

Eddie LeBaron of the Management Council ruled that Everett and Brown could play because they had actually contacted the Rams before the deadline.

Brown decided Friday, however, not to join the team in Atlanta.

Robinson had announced that "a source" had told him that 13 players were definitely going to cross the striking team's picket line. He promptly reported their names to the Management Council and said that they had been given the day off. He said they would return to work Thursday.

He was correctly working under the assumption that the strike was almost over, that his team would vote to return en masse Thursday and that NFL management would not waive its Wednesday reporting deadline for players.

"It wasn't a ploy," Robinson said Friday. "It was an honest attempt to get guys in here."

He apparently didn't take into account the effect the list would have on the players, some of whom were actually staunch union supporters and were appalled that their names had appeared on a list they knew nothing about.

Robinson admitted Thursday that he had compiled the list according to position need for Sunday's game.

The red flag on the list was linebacker Mel Owens, who was raised in union-strong Detroit and was probably the last Ram who would have crossed a picket line.

"It doesn't take Einstein to figure out how the list was compiled," Owens said. "Obviously, John didn't mean for us to be split by it. The last thing he wants is a split team. He was trying to put the Rams in the best position to win the game."

But the truth about Robinson's list finally made its way to the NFL and LeBaron phoned Robinson Friday, in search of answers.

"I told him that the players didn't physically come across," Robinson said. And, that was that.

Robinson wasn't sure how the NFL found him out.

"I think they just saw it in the press," he said.

After the strike officially ended Thursday, 9 of the 13 Rams decided to join the team and collect a paycheck this weekend.

Brown, after a conversation with Robinson on Friday, however, decided to stay behind and rejoin his former striking teammates on Monday when they all are scheduled to return to practice.

That left only Everett to make the trip to Atlanta, though he isn't expected to play much against the Falcons.

"Jim's decision (to cross) was more aggressive than Ron's," Robinson said of the decision to leave Brown behind. "This kind of just happened to him. (Brown) feels kind of isolated."

Brown, indeed, had some apprehension.

"Now, I won't have to find out," he said. "I'll feel better."

Only time will gauge what effect Robinson's list will have on his team.

Star running back Eric Dickerson, the biggest name on the list, said Thursday that some players felt as though, "John had stabbed us in the back."

Tight end David Hill, whose name was not on the list, also wondered out loud.

"I don't know if it will be straightened out," he said. "It caused a lot of ill feelings in our meeting (Thursday) morning."

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