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Raiders : Wounds Left From Strike Seem to Be Healing

October 22, 1987|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

The Raiders began trying to pick up the pieces this week, and so far, they're pleased to report, it isn't the pieces of each other.

Returning strikers went out onto the same practice field Wednesday with the 13 veteran strikebreakers and the remaining 10 non-union players. The 35 other replacements were waived without announcement or public acknowledgement of a job well done by management. They might have been Raiders but they were also 1-2.

Everyone practiced together Tuesday. During stretching exercises, the replacements were segregated in their own group. All in all, it went, uh, OK.

Said Mervyn Fernandez, who crossed the picket line the day before the strike ended: "It was different. There was tension in the air. There was definitely tension in the air.

"No one has said anything, but I can tell by people's attitudes who's feeling a little resentment and who's not."

The day the strike ended, Rod Martin, team leader and a man who had taken this job action to heart, walked back into the facility with his teammates last week, looking neither left nor right nor at all happy.

Martin struck despite the strike's limited application to him. It cost him $37,500 a week, for a grand total of $150,000. At 33 and signed through next season, he wasn't likely to benefit from free agency, assuming that he even gets another contract. If you're looking for a man who walked for principle, this one will do as well as any.

How did he feel returning?

"I felt like I was a player without a team, in a sense" Martin said Wednesday. "First of all, they had us dressing in the cafeteria (the replacements who were getting ready to play last Sunday's game were still in the regulars' cubicles). Then to hear we couldn't come back and play that weekend's game--I thought that was another slap on the wrist for doing what we felt was right as individuals, for standing up for a principle. It was just a down situation.

"I think it's going to take maybe a week or two. We're all still in a little funk. You could definitely feel the thickness in the air (Tuesday).

Is he less angry at the players like Fernandez, who only crossed on the last day?

"You have some type of feelings about it," Martin said. "But we had a meeting, and I said, as a captain, 'Put your feelings aside. We're here to win football games. We're all a team now so we got to work together.' "

You think this thing didn't pit brother against brother?

On one hand, there was Martin vs. Vince Evans. They were teammates at L.A. City College and USC, but when Evans became the Raiders' strikeball quarterback, Martin was filmed yelling at him from the picket line, "Hey Buckethead, they finally find a helmet big enough to fit you?"

Buckethead was one of Evans' nicknames at USC, one he reportedly hated.

Evans said later that just the fact that it was Martin yelling hurt him, and that if he had a chance to tell Rod his reasons--out of football, no hope of geting back in otherwise--he thought his old teammate would understand.

Evans has had a chance to tell Martin his reasons. Martin understands, if with difficulty.

"I got to take my brothers (the strikers) in consideration first," Martin said. "But like I said in the meeting, we just put it in the past. Me and Vince shook hands. We talked. We communicated.

"It was just like my brother. That was first things first."

That's right, at one point during the strike it was Martin vs. Martin.

While Rod walked a Raider picket line, his younger brother, Ricky, was in the Rams' camp, trying to catch on as a wide receiver. He wound up not playing.

Rod said during the strike that Ricky was "chasing a dream that's not there" and says he was "a little upset."

That was nothing compared to what Hattie Martin, their mother, was feeling as she tried to mediate.

"She was caught in the middle," Rod said. "She was like the coaches. She still loves us both. We're always going to make mistakes--not saying he made a mistake or that I made a mistake.

"She told us both the same thing. She just told me to pray over the situation, and I know she told him the same thing."

Evans learned Monday from reporters that he was going to be kept around, and told them how pleased he was. Meanwhile, a Raider veteran glared at the whole impromptu press conference.

Evans, on his way to practice Wednesday, said he hasn't been treated badly. "It was a little quiet the first day, but that was to be expected," Evans said. "Today, it's loosened up."

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