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Morning Briefing

The Dream Is Over, It's Time to Wake Up

October 25, 1987

You won't find many fans disappointed that the National Football League strike is over and the replacement players have been replaced by the regulars. In Chicago, they've said farewell to the Spare Bears, as they nicknamed their non-union team.

"I think (the Spare Bears) knew it was just going to be for a little while," 9-year-old Jason Royal said. "These guys had a dream to be in the NFL and they were.

"They were good, but not that good."

Trivia time: Who was the last pitcher to win three games in the same World Series, and who was the last pitcher to lose three? Hint: One of the pitchers is a participant in this year's World Series. (Answer to follow).

Even some members of NFL management are concerned about the integrity of the game since the three replacement games are being counted in the league standings.

General Manager Mike Lynn of the Minnesota Vikings is calling for an expanded playoff format.

"You want the best teams to get into the playoffs and the four best teams to be in the championship games and the two best teams to be in the Super Bowl," Lynn said. "And when 26 of the 30 teams in the last three years get in by a margin of two or less games, and we played three replacement games, it is important that we maintain the integrity of the system."

Alan Huff slid a cassette into his VCR and stretched his 6-4, 265-pound body across a couch in his Chester, Va., home. The television flickered for a moment before a Pittsburgh Steelers-Atlanta Falcons game filled the 19-inch screen.

The Atlanta quarterback released a bullet pass that suddenly corkscrewed wildly off a Pittsburgh defensive lineman's helmet. It was Huff's helmet. Huff let out a belly laugh and flicked the set off.

"A lot of guys said I was out of my head for playing scab football," Huff said. "I guess that proves they're right."

Add Huff: There were no confrontations between the striking Steelers and their replacements, as Huff expected.

"They're all good guys," he said. "I'm proud to call some of them my friends. But if we had gone somewhere else and there had been hard feelings, we were ready for a throwdown.

"A football player is always ready for a good throwdown."

NBC sportscaster Paul Maguire recalls when the American Football League players threatened to strike in the late 1960s when his teammate, quarterback Jack Kemp, was president of the AFL Players Assn.

"We kept pressing with our demands and told the owners we were ready to strike if they didn't come through," Maguire said. "Then they said they'd cancel the AFL season. In 10 minutes, it was all over--probably the fastest settlement ever."

Trivia answer: Mickey Lolich won three games for the Detroit Tigers in 1968. George Frazier, now with the Twins, lost three in relief for the New York Yankees in 1981.

Quotebook

Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz on the length of the grass at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs for a game with Air Force: "If my front yard was like that, my wife would have a fit."

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